NEW Alaska import Bill Walker said lessons learned playing alongside his childhood idol Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo with the Boston Celtics have made him an even better player.
The 26-year-old Walker joined Alaska’s first practice on Tuesday and immediately impressed coach Luigi Trillo with his energy, outside shooting, and all-around skills ahead of the Aces' campaign in the PBA Governors Cup.
The NBA veteran is high-flyer who evolved into a more versatile scorer - a change he attitributed to lessons he had with Pierce during their time together at Boston before he was traded to the New York Knicks.
“I actually played with Paul for a year and I learned a lot of stuff from him,” Walker told Spin.ph at the end of Alaska’s one-and-a-half hour practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Walker, a mean dunker before becoming a solid spot-up shooter later on after tearing the ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament) on both knees, said footwork was one of the most important things he learned from the 16-year veteran who is now with the Brooklyn Nets.
“(With Pierce) just (learned) the footwork. He wasn’t the quickest guy, wasn’t the fastest guy, but his moves and his footwork, he’s got a lot of tricks and pump fakes to get the shot off,” recalled Walker.
“That’s what I learned watching him. It’s just some of those things he just mastered that you can’t take,” he added.
Walker, who had NBA career-high averages of 11.9 points on 43.1 percent shooting from the three-point distance, said he has learned to adjust his game after two ACL tears in his basketball career.
“It (injuries) definitely made me change my game up, diversify how I score around the rim, that everything is not a dunk, using my attack off the dribble more and made me a better shooter also,” he said.
With the Governors Cup kicking off in just over a week’s time, Walker said he means business, pointing to the 14 championship banners hanging inside the Alaska practice facility.
“I just want to come over here and help them (Aces) get back," he said. "See all those banners on the wall? I want to win one."