Walker takes the reins for struggling Bobcats

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Walker takes the reins for struggling Bobcats

BOSTON Scoring. Passing. Deflecting passes.

Kemba Walker is called upon to do a little bit of everything for the Charlotte Bobcats, a role he is quite familiar with after leading the UConn Huskies to their last national championship in 2011.

But team success has been hard to come by for Walker, who was a member of the worst team in NBA history last seasonin Charlotte.

And this season's bunch, while better, is still among the worst in the NBA.

Walker will be the first to tell you that the lack of success he has had professionally has been disappointing. But, in the same breath, the 6-foot-1 guard makes it clear that he's far from discouraged at future prospects, even with the Bobcats about to take on a red-hot Celtics team tonight.

"Of course, the losses, it's been tough," Walker told CSNNE.com. "I just try to maintain the same attitude and stay positive, try to keep my temmates together."

And make no mistake about it. In only his second season, this is indeed Walker's team. And that in and of itself has been a bittersweet experience.

He embraces the leadership responsibilities that he has, but to not be able to lead Charlotte to victories -- something he did often with the Huskies -- has at times been difficult to accept.

"It's been tough of course," said Walker who is averaging 17.6 points and 5.8 assists per game, both team highs. "But at the same time I have such a good group of guys around me. It doesn't affect me as much as much as it should. These guys are doing a good job of staying positive, keeping me positive. We know we're a young team and this is a tough league to win in. We just trying to get better everyday."

And part of that improvement is playing with more effort, more consistently.

"That's the only way we're going to win, and we want to win," Walker said. "We know that playing hard, playing aggressive, we have to play that way through the whole game. We're going to try our best and come out and play hard every night."

Despite Charlotte's struggles, first-year coach Mike Dunlap has nothing but praise for the job that Walker has done for the Bobcats.

"First off, statistically he's dramatically up in everything," Dunlap said. "He leads us in any category that we can invent. We're getting high level play from him night in and night out. Also we have our own deflection chart defensively. He leads us in charges, hands on ball, the whole deal. We can't get much more out of him night in and night out. "

Said Walker: "Coach (Dunlap) has put me in the position to be a leader. And I'm just trying my best to embrace the role."

The value of leadership can only be enhanced by one's play, which is why Walker has had no issues in leading this team despite all but two players -- second-year center Bismack Biyombo and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist -- being older than him.

"They (older players) have given me a chance (to lead)," Walker said. "Like I said, these are some great guys and they have given me some great opportunities."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has also recognized the improvements made by Walker this season compared to last year when he was a rookie.

"When you watch the rookies and then you watch them the next year, it's amazing how different they are," Rivers said. "They play at a different pace, better speed. It was really fun watching Kemba on film the last two or three days.

Rivers added, "He's sure of himself now. He knows where he wants to go. He knows he can get his shot now as well. That makes him a heck of a guy to guard."

NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

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NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.

While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.

The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.

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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.

This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.

Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.

And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately. 

Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench. 

Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.

And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed. 

They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.

But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.

Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis. 

Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.

Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.

And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for