Let the comparisons start to rain down as the NBA season draws near.
ESPN is ranking the top 100 players in the NBA ahead of the 2019-20 season, and in its latest installment Wednesday released spots 11-30, which featured both new Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker and his predecessor Kyrie Irving.
Walker made a giant step last season with the Charlotte Hornets catapulting him to 17th on this year’s list, up from 26th a year ago. Walker averaged 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in his final season in Charlotte.
Irving finished ahead of Walker, ranking 11th — a jump from 20th last season.
Irving’s numbers nearly were identical to Walker’s in terms of production, averaging 23.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in a season that certainly did not go well and saw him bolt from Boston to the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason.
Here’s what ESPN had to say on Walker:
Just how good is Walker? We are about to find out. For years, he has been stuck in the definition of basketball purgatory in Charlotte. Joining the Celtics this summer as a free agent puts him at the helm of a vastly more talented team.
Celtics fans likely will be bound to compare success and overall play week in and week out of the two point guards. But Walker probably will be more concerned with playing for a competitive team for the first time since his days at UConn.