CHICAGO — The Dallas Mavericks will certainly need to forget their 144-115 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, where they allowed 82 points in the primary half. But there was a brilliant spot for the Luka Doncic-less Mavs’ on an otherwise brutal night.
The sport saw the debut of four-time All-Star Kemba Walker, which Dallas signed last month. In 20 minutes of motion Walker finished with eight points, five assists, two rebounds and one block. It is a modest statline, but given the 32-year-old Walker hasn’t played in 10 months, it is a promising return for the once franchise cornerstone player.
There have been moments in the sport where you saw flashes of Walker’s former All-Star self, whether he was ending tough shots or dishing impressive dimes. Though he has a history of getting hurt, most notable a knee injury which plagued him for several seasons since his time with the Boston Celtics, Walker looked spry and showed no sign of getting had any issues. After the sport, Walker talked about his long awaited return to the hardwood.
“It felt great, I used to be just in the home a couple of weeks ago,” Walker said, referring to the way it wasn’t too way back that he was a free agent. “It just feels really good, really gratifying to be back.”
Prior to the injuries, it was unfathomable to think that Walker can be a free agent in the course of the season, as he was one of the vital lethal scoring guards within the league through his years with the Charlotte Hornets and several other seasons with the Celtics. But injuries have a habit of doing that to a player’s profession, and after a 37-game stint with the Recent York Knicks last season, through which Walker fell completely out of the rotation, after which being traded to, after which waived by the Detroit Pistons within the offseason, Walker found himself and not using a team.
That modified when the Mavericks signed Walker to a one-year minimum contract on Nov. 29, because the team felt it needed one other guard after it was clear Dallas didn’t adequately address the lack of Jalen Brunson within the offseason. After several practices and watching the team from the bench since joining them, Walker finally made his debut, and he admitted there have been some nerves when he checked in for the primary time in 297 days.
“Just a little bit, little bit,” Kemba said in reference to if he had nerves when he checked in for the primary time. “But once I saw my first shot go in, [the nerves] form of went away.”
That first made basket got here in the primary quarter, a mid-range, pull-up shot from the highest of the important thing. It looked like vintage Kemba, a smooth jumper that you just knew was getting into as soon because it left his fingertips.
“It was most definitely a fantastic feeling,” Walker said. “I worked hard to get myself back to this level.”
Though the result wasn’t a win for Walker and the Mavericks, the previous lottery pick was certainly one of just two players on Dallas’ team who finished with a positive point differential at a plus-2. And while that won’t mean a complete lot in what was a lopsided affair as Dallas was without Doncic — who was out with a quad injury — it speaks to the positive impact when he was on the ground. That positive impact is something Mavericks coach Jason Kidd applauded after the sport.
“I assumed Kemba did an excellent job of getting us organized offensively and defensively,” Kidd said. “Once you take a look at it, there have been only two guys that were within the positive, and he was certainly one of them, him and Reggie [Bullock]. In a game like that, that is almost not possible to do, but those two were positives and so Kemba did a very good job.”
So far as how Walker’s role will evolve for the Mavericks, Kidd mentioned that it’s possible we could see him on the ground with Doncic when he returns, but didn’t need to put a timeframe on it.
“We’ll get a likelihood to see those two play together, it’s early within the season so we now have quite a lot of basketball left to play,” Kidd said. “When Luka comes back hopefully we are able to get those two on the ground together.”