Who’s willing to argue the Boston Celtics aren’t better off with Kemba Walker than they were with Kyrie Irving?
Veteran NBA.com writer Shaun Powell on Tuesday offered a definitive assessment of the changing of the point guards the Boston Celtics experienced last summer. Irving left the Celtics for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, and Boston promptly acquired Walker from the Charlotte Hornets in a sign-and-trade.
Walker has averaged 21.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, and Boston is off to a 12-4 start. The Celtics’ .750 winning percentage is dramatically better than its .598 mark in 2018-19, when the Irving-led team disappointed in the regular season and exited the playoffs in the second round. These encouraging early returns lead Powell to this conclusion about Walker’s arrival in Boston.
“For those who are quick to say he isn’t Kyrie Irving, please clarify: from a talent or drama standpoint? Perhaps both are true and the Celtics are thrilled with the latter and more than comfortable with the former,” Powell writes. “The switch in starting point guards is benefitting Boston so far: Kemba is averaging 21 points, shooting 39 percent from deep and getting zero eye rolls in the locker room.”
Irving’s old and new teams will meet for the first time this season Wednesday night at TD Garden when the Nets visit the Celtics. He won’t play due to a shoulder injury, but Walker is likely to return from the neck injury he suffered Friday night. The contrasting receptions Celtics fans give Walker and Irving will tell you all you need to know about how well the point-guard change switch has gone down in these parts.
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