Value In The NBA: Where The Milwaukee Bucks Currently Stand

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Age: 27

2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 23.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks, 45.7 percent shooting

Contract: 2 years, $24 million

Traded If: Charlotte hovers outside playoff picture long enough to initiate full-fledged reboot.

First, a disclaimer, aimed primarily at the people of Charlotte: Relax. Sort of. Consider this nothing more than a compliment to Kemba Walker and the fickle situation in which your team finds itself.

Walker is a star. End of story. The Hornets won't just give away a star. They have traveled great lengths to avoid a full-tilt rebuild over the past few years. The last thing they'll do is trade their franchise cornerstone, who is playing out one of the NBA's best contracts, on a lark.

"His finishing has obviously improved a bunch, but his jumper has really made his game to where he's really hard to guard," Hornets assistant coach Stephen Silas told CBS Sports' James Herbert. "He used to be someone who would just go, go, go. Now he can play different paces, he can shoot the tree, he can get in the paint, he can finish. He does it all."

Three players since 2015-16 are clearing 20 points and five assists per game while hitting more than 38 percent of their treys: Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry and Walker. So, no, the Hornets wouldn't move him as anything more than a last resort, as the inception of a ground-up rebuild—and maybe not even then.

That day of reckoning could be en route. The Hornets are dwelling outside the East's early-season playoff picture. They're scoring like the league's worst offense whenever Walker steps off the court, and Nicolas Batum's recent return from a shoulder injury is all that prevents far-flung calls for panic.

What happens if things don't change? What if the Hornets remain on the outskirts of the playoff picture? It sounds unruly, but they have a thin margin for error after tabbing the Bucks, Wizards, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors as locks. Which teams among the Magic, Sixers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are the Hornets guaranteed to beat out?

Slip deep enough into unknown territory, and they have to consider taking a stick of dynamite to their infrastructure. Walker will be a free agent in 2019, and they're essentially locked into the current core even after Dwight Howard slinks off the books next year. 

Full-blown demolition is unlikely. The Hornets have too many contracts they must move to clear the decks. But Walker's stock has exploded enough for teams to mortgage their futures. He'll net a collection of picks and prospects while allowing Charlotte to ax one of its less savory deals—an ideal launching point for any reluctant reset.


Unless otherwise cited, all stats are courtesy of or Basketball Reference and current leading into games on Nov. 20.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast co-hosted by B/R's Andrew Bailey.

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