It has been fun to watch Kemba Walker climb the ranks of the NBA’s elite point guards over the last eight seasons. Of course, Husky fans and college hoops junkies have always had a special appreciation for Kemba given his well-documented exploits at UConn.
In the NBA, Kemba’s rise was gradual and, to some, unexpected. This year, he received the elusive All-NBA nod, despite shouldering the load for a middle-of-the-road Charlotte Hornets squad.
Walker was selected for the All-NBA Third-Team for the 2018-2019 season, joining Russell Westbrook, Rudy Gobert, Blake Griffin, and someone named LeBron James as third-teamers. The point guards ahead of him on the first and second teams are Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving (Second), and James Harden and Steph Curry (First Team).
In essence, that makes Kemba a top five point guard in the league, and listed at a generous 6-foot-1, the shortest player named to the list. This season, Walker put up 25.6 points per game, played in all 82 games (both career highs), and earned his third All-Star bid.
But this list is not just formality. It has real-life implications that could make Kemba much richer, very soon. Any player named to an All-NBA team is eligible for the Designated Veteran Player Extension, also known as the “Supermax” deal, which allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.
Kemba is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and now Charlotte has the option to dole out a five-year, $221 contract to the Brooklyn native by July 1. ESPN just put out an extensive primer on the NBA supermax here.
No matter where Kemba ends up this summer, he’ll always have UConn faithful following his every step(back). Except now, he’ll have an All-NBA tag ahead of his name.