10. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
After plateauing for three years in the NBA, Walker broke out during 2015-16 and emerged as the leader of a rapidly improving Hornets squad. For the first time as a pro, Walker eclipsed the 20 point per game mark and set a career-high with 20.9 on 42.7 percent shooting–also a career-best. The aspect that broke Walker into the top ten were his improved efficiency and defense, two things that are necessary of a team’s best player.
An overall shooting clip of just under 43 percent may sound mediocre–because it is–but the UConn product had been under 40 in three of his first four campaigns. From three-point range was where Kemba saw a huge increase (37 percent), and that really benefitted Charlotte as teams weren’t able to help off him, opening the floor for guys like Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lin, and Nic Batum. On the other side of the court, Walker’s maturation and the coaching of Steve Clifford turned Charlotte into a premier defensive team, and Walker was right at the head of it.
I believe he’s just now scratching the surface of his full potential, and he’s getting closer and closer to making an All-Star team. It’s not far-fetched to believe that Walker will have a second breakout year to fill the voids left by Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee.
Next: No. 9