The NBA’s Summer League has long been a great opportunity for young players and rookies to breakout and make a name for themselves in front of fellow NBA veterans and front office staff. So, with that being said, NBA analysts are always searching through every team’s Summer League roster looking for the next NBA superstars.
Here at The Hardwood Tribune, we too have been searching for the next NBA superstars and over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing scouting reports on several players whom we believe have showed great potential and promise during the 2019 Summer League. Today, we will be taking an in-depth look at New Orleans Pelicans’ rookie standout Nickeil Alexander-Walker. So without further ado, let’s jump right into the action!
College: Virginia Tech
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 204 Lbs.
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
College Stats: 13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 46.4% from the field
Years of College Experience: 2
Nickeil Alexander-Walker brings a little bit of everything to the table when looking at his overall style of play. Alexander-Walker is a quality scorer who can bring a spark of offense to the Pelicans second unit, which is a very sought after trait in the NBA. The 20-year-old is not only a quality shooter, but he’s also an impressive floor general. The Virginia Tech product possesses a very high basketball IQ, allowing him to dish out pin-point passes to teammates in transition, while also being able to step up and knock down an open jumper on the run. During the 2019 Summer League, Alexander-Walker showed that he possesses the ability to step on the floor and run an offensive unit, leading his Summer League coach to praise his game in an interview, stating the following:
“Nickeil’s been great running the offense. That was a change I saw in the first game, I saw his ability to play at the pace where we want to be, along with his ability to score. He was outstanding out there today. We’re just excited to have him, because of his ability to pass and find his teammates, and he’s an unselfish player.”
Not only has Nickeil garnered praise from his Summer League coach, he recently also was praised in the media by fellow Pelican’s draft pick Jaxson Hayes, who said this:
“Nickeil finds people, he gets buckets, he’ll drive to the hoop, hit a three, dime somebody. I’ve just really been impressed.”
In our book, Nickeil is somewhat of a swiss army knife, seeing as he shoots at a high clip while also asserting himself on the defensive end. During his short time at Virginia Tech, Alexander-Walker displayed incredible awareness on the defensive side of the ball, showing scouts he could pick off multiple kinds of passes with ease. Overall, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has shown NBA fans that he possesses a great amount of both potential and skill, leading us to believe he can transform himself into a quality NBA player upon entry into the league. After seeing his impressive performance in the early stages of the NBA’s Summer League, there’s absolutely no doubt the 20-year-old has begun to silence doubters with his crafty style of play.
While Alexander-Walker does enter the league with a polished set of skills, scouts do have some concerns regarding his frame and athleticism. According to multiple scouting reports, experts explained that they worry that the former Hokie lacks the athleticism necessary to beat defenders off the dribble and explode towards the rim. They also stated that they were concerned with his slender frame and his ability to match up with bigger defenders in the league.
Hopefully Nickeil can fill out his frame and put on some muscle to help him better matchup with bigger defenders. As for the athleticism concerns, developing a better first step and explosion timing can be done, and the Pelicans have plenty of trainers and coaches who will help Nickeil work on these areas of weakness. Ultimately, if Alexander-Walker can work on the parts of his game where he struggles a bit, he could develop into a future NBA star and a leader for this young Pelican’s team.
Review of Nickeil’s Summer League Thus Far:
If there were any doubters who didn’t believe Alexander-Walker was the real deal heading into the Summer League tournament, we guarantee there aren’t any now. The Virginia Tech product has had an incredible run during the 2019 Summer League thus far, averaging 27.7 points, 6.3 assists, 4 rebounds, 2.6 steals, and one block per game. Nickeil’s stat-line has propelled him into the national spotlight and the young rookie has handled the new-found attention incredibly well. Nickeil has proven he possesses the talent and ability to play at the NBA’s highest level and we simply cannot wait to see how the young guard performs during the NBA’s upcoming regular season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dejounte Murray