Walker happy to take a seat
|03.23.09 at 11:23 pm ET|
The return of Kevin Garnett means less playing time for Bill Walker. That’s bad for the Boston Celtics rookie, right? Think again.
“I’m actually happy Ticket’s back,” he said before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers (RECAP HERE). “He gives our team that swagger again. We’re more aggressive on defense. You can just tell it’s a different team when he’s on the court.”
After bouncing between the bench and the NBA Development League, Walker received a rare window of opportunity for meaningful minutes on the Celtics. He had played a total of just 54 minutes all season before Garnett strained his knee on February 19. With the Celtics bench already hampered by injuries, Walker averaged 8.5 minutes per game in Garnett’s absence.
“I learned that it’s more physical than it looks on TV out there,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to rest your body and take care of your little aches because those games come back so quick. You’ve got to take care of the little things.”
While Walker’s numbers did not skyrocket – his game-high was only eight points – his perspective on the game did.
“You can always get better, especially on defense,” he said. “There are so many things that go with our defense that I don’t know everything. So watching tape and watching myself like, ‘Oh I’m a second late’ or, ‘I’m a step late.’”
Walker is constantly learning, whether it is on the court or on the bench, so he does not mind taking it all in from the sidelines. He pay close attention to the players around him — “What do they do that’s effective?” he asks himself – and tries to incorporate their strengths into his own game. He doesn’t have to look much further than his own team to pick up some pointers.
“Offensively you can take from just about anybody out there. (Rajon) Rondo, how he gets to the basket. Paul (Pierce), his footwork. Ray (Allen’s) shooting. Ticket’s post work. There’s a lot of stuff to watch out there,” Walker said. “I watch Ray on defense. Ray’s got some great defense. People don’t really realize it but Ray’s always in the right position. Hands are where they’re supposed to be. He’s just a smart player.”
The Celtics basketball IQ has already rubbed off on Walker. He’ll take the opportunity to watch the Big Three play any day.
“I think it’s very, very valuable because everybody is not playing on a team with three sure-fire Hall of Famers,” he said. “It’s not like these guys are stuck up. They teach me things every day.”
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