Last night's game was frustrating to watch because we were simply out of options. Doc had to keep playing Marbury despite his struggles from the field. Doc had to keep the bigs in despite foul trouble. Doc was compelled to keep Paul and Ray in for 40 minutes because we still had a shot to win the game at the end. But there was one silver lining for me. Doc also had to play Bill Walker.
For the most part the kid didn't disappoint. At the very least he filled up the box score. 8 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 4 fouls, and 1 turnover in just 14 minutes of play. He was (as usual) aggressive attacking the basket and made mostly smart decisions with the ball.
Oh yeah, and once again he found himself at the center of an altercation with another big name opponent. Jermaine O'Neal took exception to Walker aggressively boxing out and shoved the rookie to the ground, picking up a technical (updated). If there's one thing we've learned about Billy this year it is this: he backs down from nobody. Period. You could argue that he sometimes needs to reign it in a little so he doesn't hurt the team, but I have to say that I like a guy with no fear.
His ex-teammate Michael Beasley is obviously biased, but he has a lot of confidence in Walker's future. (Globe)
"It's been hard for him," Beasley said. "I talk to him. But he has to keep pushing. He's a great player. A great athlete. The sky is the limit for him. He's 6-5, 6-6, 240 pounds. But he moves like he's 215 and jumps like he's 190 pounds. There's a lot you don't know about Bill. Bill's a 3-point shooter. There's a lot to his game that the world hasn't seen yet and is yet to come. Once everyone sees what he can do, it's going to be something special."
Now, this isn't 2006 where we are forced to live on scraps of "upside potential" and "future prospects." If he's going to contribute to this team in the next couple of years, he's going to have to find a role and excel in that role. I think he could help as an aggressive slasher off the bench in limited minutes. It is a little late in the season to develop him for the post season. He might have to wait till next year to get consistent minutes. However, the team needs him for spot duty right now and for at least one game he's stepped up to the challenge.