This is the eighth in a series of profiles for all 15 players (after today’s release of Darius Miles) on the current Celtics roster. We’ll profile at least one player each day leading up to the season opener.
Bill Walker drives to the basket in between New Jersey Nets Yi Jianlian (9) and Brook Lopez (11) on Sunday Oct. 19. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe)
Born: Oct. 9, 1987
Height: 6 feet 6 inches. Weight: 220
College: Kansas State
Years pro: Rookie
Acquired: Drafted No. 47 overall by Washington in 2008 (rights traded to Celtics for cash considerations.)
2008/2009 salary: Not disclosed by team.
Signed through: 2008-2009, team option for following season.
Last year’s numbers: 16.1 ppg, 1.9 apg, 6.3 rpg at Kansas State.
Strengths: This is a good place to start. “I’m a dunker,” Walker told the Globe’s Julian Benbow of his two showstoppers during the Celtics’ preseason opener against the 76ers. “I’ve always done that. That doesn’t stick out to me.” What has stuck out in a limited view of Walker this preseason is his athleticism, as well as his intensity. In what is actually a good thing, Walker also mixed it up with Rockets forward Tracy McGrady (video). “I told him, ‘Don’t back down, but don’t be stupid,’ ” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Bill will get under a lot of people’s skins because he plays so physical and cuts so hard. People don’t like it, but it’s what’s going to make him a good player.”
Weaknesses: Experience is a weakness with any rookie, but especially in Walker’s case. Because of knee trouble, Walker played in just 37 games in two seasons at Kansas State. He’s had torn ACLs in both knees and has undergone three surgeries, which lowered his draft stock from a mid first-rounder to a late second-rounder.
What to expect: If he stays healthy, Walker could see minutes as an energy player off the Celtics’ bench. But he’s got a lot of competition in front of him, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen, Leon Powe, and Glen Davis all likely to get time at his position (he’s a 3 or a 4). But no single player has gotten more out of training camp than Walker, and if his improvement going forward is comparable to the improvement he’s already shown, he could contend for minutes by season’s end.
Check back tomorrow for another player profile, and give us your expectations for Walker in our comments section.