Kemba Walker vs. D’Angelo Russell

Given the opportunity, which one should the Mavericks offer a max contract to this summer.

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With over $30 million in cap space this summer, the Dallas Mavericks have their sights set on bringing in some top level talent to pair with their dynamic young duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. I have written numerous articles ranking the top available free agents that the Mavs front office can bid on but here I want to focus on two players in particular that have been highly rumored to potentially sign with Dallas, Kemba Walker and D’Angelo Russell. Let’s figure out, given the opportunity to sign both, which one should the Mavericks give big money to.

Kemba Walker is a 6’1″ 184 lbs point guard who was the 9th overall pick 2011 out of UConn by the Charlotte Bobcats. Kemba is a 3x All-Star and received his first All-NBA selection this season. Just turned 29 years old in May and is eligible for a 4yr/$141M max salary from the Mavericks starting at $32.7 million in 2019.

The odds have Kemba staying in Charlotte but you can see the Mavs coming in with the 4th best odds to land the 8 year veteran at +500.

Team Free Agency Odds at MyBookie
Hornets -200
Lakers 150
Knicks 400
Mavs 500
Clippers 900
Bulls 1000
Suns 1000

D’Angelo Russell is a 6’5″ 198 lbs who was the 2nd overall pick 2015 out of Ohio State by the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell was 2015-2016 All Rookie and first time All-Star this season. Turned 23 years old in February and is eligible for a 4yr/$117M max salary from the Mavericks starting at $27.25M in 2019.

Once again the odds from May 2019 have D’Angelo Russell favored to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets but new developments may swing these odds in the Mavs favor. According to SNY.tv’s Ian Begley, Russell is “highly unlikely” to re-sign if Irving comes to Brooklyn. All signs are pointing toward Irving taking his talents to Brooklyn meaning that Russell very well may be on the move.

Team Free Agency Odds at MyBookie
Nets -400
Mavs 250
Knicks 400
Suns 600
Bulls 800
Clippers 1200
FIELD 300
2018-2019 Per Game Stats Comparison
Player G MP FG% 3P 3P% FT% REB AST STL TO PTS
Russell 81 30.2 43% 2.9 37% 78% 3.9 7 1.2 3.1 21.1
Walker 82 34.9 43% 3.2 36% 84% 4.4 5.9 1.2 2.6 25.6
2018-2019 Per 36 Minutes Stats Comparison
Player FG% 3P 3P% FT% REB AST STL TO PTS
Russell 43.4% 3.4 36.9% 78.0% 4.6 8.3 1.5 3.7 25.2
Walker 43.4% 3.3 35.6% 84.4% 4.5 6.1 1.3 2.7 26.4

When you remove the fact that Kemba played almost 5 minutes more per game than Russel it paints a bit of a different picture. They score very similarly, the real difference in their scoring is the great free throw shooting on nearly double the attempts for Kemba adding an extra point per 36 minutes. You can tell DLo is really racking up the assists relative to Kemba, both with equal assist to turnover ratios.

Highlight Films and Top Games

D’Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell is not the most athletic guy from the point guard position but he is big, skilled, and incredibly creative with shots and passes. He has a fairly unorthodox shooting stroke when it comes to foot placement but it is effortless and extremely effective. He uses that deadly three point range to draw defenders out and get into the lane where he can whip passes all over the floor with precision and drop floaters that sail higher than the backboard.

When it comes to clutch time Russell is not shy about letting everyone know he has ice in his veins. He will never be nervous to take the last shot but is also a willing and capable passer if need be.

Opp MP FG% 3P 3P% FT% REB AST STL TO PTS GmSc
SAC 38 52% 6 40% 67% 4 12 4 5 44 34.7
ORL 33 64% 8 67% 2 7 1 1 40 34.4
PHI 34 57% 2 33% 100% 8 8 0 1 38 32.9
ATL 29 68% 5 56% 100% 6 7 2 0 32 32.2
CHO 35 45% 6 40% 100% 1 7 2 4 40 27.4
Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker is simply too quick to handle. He has a mix of lighting quick crossovers, step back jumpers, and acrobatic finishes that make even the best defenders look pathetic. At 6’1″ Kemba is never the biggest on the court but what he lacks in size he makes up for with heart and effort as he relentlessly attacks the rim.

Kemba has been wasting his talents on a sub-par Charlotte team for 8 years now. He plays his heart out every night, does whatever it takes for his team to compete, and he has 11 Playoff games in those 8 years to show for it. Now 29 years old Kemba may be in line for his last big contract in his prime and I just hope he doesn’t once again waste it by staying with the Hornets.

Opp MP FG% 3P 3P% FT% REB AST STL TO PTS GmSc
PHI 45 62% 6 43% 100% 7 4 4 9 60 43.7
WAS 36 62% 6 67% 63% 4 4 1 1 47 37
HOU 40 70% 6 100% 86% 10 7 0 4 40 35.8
ORL 40 64% 4 44% 100% 2 5 0 2 43 35
CHI 37 44% 4 44% 93% 6 10 1 0 37 33.5

Kemba and D’Angelo are very close statistically, both are All-Star level talents, and would be incredible additions to the Mavericks roster. However, due to Russell being about 4 inches taller, 6 years younger, and $5 million cheaper I would prefer him to Kemba Walker.

At Russell’s age Kemba was averaging per 36 minute numbers of 18 points and 6 assists on 32% three point shooting. Compared to the per 36 minute number of 25 points and 8 assists on 37% three point shooting from Russell in his age 22 season I see higher upside and potential from Russell as he continues to mature and gain experience.

A trio of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and D’Angelo Russell, all under the age of 24, for my money would be the best young core in the entire NBA. By signing Russell to a 4 year deal we could potentially lock of that core of prime NBA talent for the next several years and start something really special here in Dallas.

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