Charlotte Hornets

Sports Illustrated ranked the NBA’s Top 100 players. Charlotte’s Kemba Walker is...

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was the highest-ranked Hornets player on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players list.
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was the highest-ranked Hornets player on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players list. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Sports Illustrated isn’t knocking Kemba Walker for the Hornets’ underwhelming 2016-2017 season.

The national sports publication recently released its rankings of the Top 100 NBA players of 2018, and Walker came in at No. 29.

“Charlotte’s only hope to compete came with their lead guard on the floor; when Walker was in the game, the Hornets approximated a top-five offense and a top-10 defense,” Rob Mahoney said. “That’s quite a demonstration of what Walker can do as a team’s best player, even if his game is best suited for more of a supporting role.”

The Hornets finished last season 36-46 and missed the playoffs. But Walker still had a breakout campaign, notching career-highs in points (23.2), field goal percentage (44.4%) and three point percentage (39.9%). He was also named an All Star for the the first time in his career.

Walker is the highest-ranked Charlotte player, and he comes in above several other notable NBA names. Below Walker are Dwayne Wade (74th), Isaiah Thomas (40th) and even Carmelo Anthony (37th).

The other Hornets players ranked in the Top 100 are Marvin Williams (88th), Dwight Howard (73rd), Cody Zeller (70th), and Nicolas Batum (48th).

“Scoring comes more naturally to Walker than passing, though he manages to keep a tidy offense through sound, low-risk plays,” Mahoney said. “There are natural limits to how much disruption a 6’1’’ guard can muster. Walker’s best efforts push them as far as can be reasonably expected.”

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @brendanrmarks

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