Perhaps Kemba Walker is the closet of the current crop of Boston Celtics to Springfield, Mass. … at least in a basketball sense.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Friday named the Celtics guard as the team’s most likely inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While Walker isn’t among the players ESPN considers “locks” — such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and other NBA superstars — the Worldwide Leader believes Walker’s college and professional achievements put him “on track” for the Hall of Fame, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown needing to reach higher heights in order to pass their veteran teammate.
“Yes, Jayson Tatum is a young, rising star,” Bontemps wrote. “Ditto for Jaylen Brown. But who knows what will happen as they age?
“Walker has already made four All-Star teams and an All-NBA team. What if he makes two or three more All-Star teams in Boston and wins an NBA title to go with his NCAA championship? That’s the kind of résumé the Hall tends to honor.
“Do Tatum and Brown have a higher ceiling? Sure. But this is about who is most likely. And, as of today, Walker is the choice.”
ESPN likely will spark some (virtual) debates with Bontemps’ Walker assertion, and who knows? Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart also will try to play their respective way into the running.
As for now, in April 2020, Walker’s age and longevity (29 years old and in his ninth NBA season), combined with his on-court feats, give him the edge over Tatum (22 and in his third), Brown (23 and in his fourth), Smart (26 and in his sixth), Hayward (30 and in his 10th although a catastrophic leg injury cost him an entire campaign), Tacko Fall (just kidding) and Boston’s other hopefuls for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.