Apr 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker (15) looks on against the Miami Heat during the second half in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 99-88. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets rumors: Is Kemba Walker the key?

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After adding big man Al Jefferson and hiring Steve Clifford to be their new head coach, the Charlotte Hornets were the most improved team in basketball, going from the NBA’s second-worst record to a playoff team. Now that the team has added guard Lance Stephenson, expectations have been raised.

Stephenson will obviously provide a big spark for the Hornets, but the key to their success might be the continued development of point guard Kemba Walker. Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders believes Walker should have an easier time with Stephenson in the fold.

Most of those conversations are dominated by Curry, Lillard, Irving and Wall, but Walker has the chance to claw his way into that conversation. While Walker has posted 17.7 point per game in each of his last two seasons, he ranks outside of the top 10 in assists per game with just 6.1 a game. However, in each of his three seasons in the league, Walker has increased his assists per game and that trend should continue next season. Times have changed in the NBA as the Hornets are on the rise with a new head coach in Steve Clifford, a veteran in Al Jefferson and the addition of Lance Stephenson. The arrival of Stephenson means Walker will be able to distribute the ball more and not be forced to take nearly 16 shots a game again, of which he is making just under 40 percent of.

With the roster the Hornets have put together, they have given themselves a realistic opportunity to get into the Eastern Conference’s top four.

Last season, Walker put up 17.7 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 39.3% from the floor, 33.3% from beyond the arc and 83.7% from the free throw line. In his three-year career, the ninth-overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, has put up 16.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 39.8% from the field, 32.2% from three and 81.0% from the charity stripe.

Be sure to check FanSided’s official NBA page to keep up to date on the latest news and rumors from around the league all summer long.

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