From the end of the bench to the best in the East.
Kemba Walker was awarded the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week on Monday, the first Knick to win that honor this season.
It was a belated Christmas gift for the point guard after he averaged 25 points, 8.3 assists and nine rebounds over a three-game stretch.
The Knicks went 2-1. OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was honored for the West.
Walker, 31, only received the opportunity because New York’s roster was decimated by injuries and COVID-19 infections, leaving Tom Thibodeau with no other viable options. He previously removed Walker from the rotation and started Alec Burks, Derrick Rose and Miles McBride ahead of the four-time All-Star.
Walker returned from the coach-imposed hiatus Dec. 18 against his former team, the Celtics, dropping 29 points in 37 minutes. He followed up with 21 points and eight rebounds in a win Tuesday over the Pistons, then 44 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a loss to the Wizards. In
Saturday’s victory over the Hawks, Walker became the first Knick to record a triple-double on Christmas.
Walker said his benching was “a blessing in disguise” and he returned more aggressive.
“I have a tendency of not wanting to step on toes, and that’s what I did early on,” he said. “I wasn’t being as aggressive I think as I could’ve been. Being out, seeing how the game was flowing and going, put me in a different mindset.”
There’s shorthanded teams and then there’s the utterly ravaged Timberwolves, who happen to be the Knicks opponent Tuesday.
Minnesota had seven players in COVID-19 protocols as of Monday night, including their three top players Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards.
The Knicks, meanwhile, seem to be on the other side of their COVID-19 outbreak and only had three players in protocols — Nerlens Noel, Miles McBride and Jericho Sims.
New York is entering its easiest stretch of schedule with their next 13 opponents holding a record of either .500 or worse before Monday night’s game.
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/kemba-walker-named-eastern-conference-000600728.html369