...is better than the one you don't. I'm going to make this crystal clear. Walker is a flawed basketball player. Ainge knows it. Walker might know it (though he'll never admit it). And you faithful Boston fans know it all too well.
I'll make something else crystal clear. Antoine Walker is NOT going to fundamentally change his game. He is who he is. If you are on the fence because you think that "as long as he doesn't...", then get off the fence and run the other way. If you hated Walker's game before, you'll hate it now. No question in my mind.
Now that we've cleared that up, I will say that it is still possible to be on the fence and be somewhat up in the air on this trade. There is also a chance that Walker will "conform" his game enough to be a very valuable cog in this machine. I'm not contradicting myself when I say that, though I will admit to splitting hairs. It boils down to this: Walker has an opportunity to tweak his game and succeed in a different system. However, he will not change who he is overnight, and nobody expects him to. Some things we all know we have to look forward to:
3 Pointers - Yes, he's going to take them. However, it is highly unlikely that he'll take as many as he did during O'Brien's years of "chuck it up" offense. Hopefully it won't be as much as he's taking this year on a team with very few shooters. He has to take the shots when they are good shots. It's Doc's job to get him the ball in good spots. Its his job to make good decisions. This is the key.
Volume Shooting - Yes, he's going to take a lot of shots. That's who he is. Any time he touches the ball, he believes he's the best option of scoring a bucket on that play. Take that confidence away from him and all you have is a pudgy, 6'8" point guard. Again, the key is the trust that he gains in his teammates to make shots of their own. Which brings us to our next point.
Passing - Lost in all the talk about his volume shooting is the fact that Walker is an above average passer. He can find teammates when he trusts him. And there's the rub. Of course, if he doesn't pass, I have some pretty good confidence that Doc will find him a seat on the bench quickly enough. If he didn't back down from Paul, he won't back down from Antoine.
Rebounding - Finally, a point that few can argue. What might be our top weakness is one of Walker's biggest strengths. Hopefully the offensive system (and Doc) will keep him in the paint more often than not, thus increasing his ability to stay on the offensive boards. However, even if we got a few more boards a night on defense, that makes us a better team right there. My dad always told me that a rebound was worth 2 baskets, and I believe that. (I wish Blount did)
Mental Toughness - One of other glaring weaknesses as a team is not keeping our composure in the clutch. If you throw out every arguement I've made and consider only one aspect of this man's game, please consider this. In his last run with the Celtics (and presumably in Dallas and Atlanta) Walker has always welcomed pressure. He craves it. He thirsts for it like water. His results were sometimes mixed, but he took his share of game winners, made his share of big plays when it mattered, and never backed down from a challenge.
Antoine Walker is what he has always been. Like him or not, he's here to play his part once again. Personally I like what he brings to the table and I am happy with the price we paid to get him (especially if we can bring Payton back). Of course you can take this all with a grain of salt since I've always been a Walker fan. However, I can at least say that I'm a realistic Walker fan. The biggest complaint I've ever had with Walker was that he had so much talent, and never really got the most out of it. Some of that I blame on O'Brien. Much of it falls on him. However, he's got another shot at it now.
If it works out, everyone's happy. Otherwise, he'll be on to a new team next year (don't forget we can always sign-and-trade him in the offseason). Here's hoping that it works out.
(oh yeah and, umm, I'm still a fan of "the Wiggle"!)