Nickeil Alexander-Walker 16.2 points – 4.1 rebounds – 4.0 assists – 47.4 FG% – 37.4 3PT% – 4.2 FTA – 77.8 FT% – 1.9 steals – 2.9 TOV
Born: Toronto, Canada
Height/Weight: 6-5 – 205
School: Virginia Tech
Birthday: September 2nd, 1998
When doing research for this upcoming draft one of the prospects who’ve intrigued me the most was Virginia Tech’s guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Age 20, will turn 21 in September, NAW spent two seasons in Virginia before declaring for the NBA Draft. The first game I’ve seen him play was against Boston College – matching up against another guard I’m fairly curious in junior Ky Bowman projected to be a late 2nd round selection.
NAW represents the same platitudes applied to someone like Jalen Brunson the year prior. They are leaving college at an older age so they must be the most “responsible” prospects and carry the “least risk” if you take them. Brunson and NAW both sported impressive BBIQs and a decent ability to read the floor. Where Alexander-Walker loses me is his inability to create separation due to his lack of athleticism. NAW fit V.T’s defensive scheme perfectly. Buzz Williams scheme is mostly to play the zone on defense and some full court trapping. This is where NAW’s overall feel, awareness and BBIQ come into play. Able to garner steals despite his average frame.
Against Boston the Hokies could not have asked for a better game from Alexander-Walker. If you wanted to see a versatile, rangy, cagey prospect you’ll won’t be disappointed. Not only did NAW torch the Eagles for 25 he was able to do it by penetrating the lane and hitting his Js.
The speed of the collegiate game course pales in comparison to the pace of the professional ranks. NAW shown no indication he can keep up and belong in his current form. He’ll need to become quicker on his feet and showcase that he can shoot the three-pointer at an NBA level. NAW struggled mightily against a lengthy Duke squad anchored by R.J Barrett (6’10), Cam Reddish (7’1) and Zion Williamson (6’10). This matters because of the recent success of teams with crazy long wingspans, like Milwaukee and Toronto, the league is shifting away from one reliant on guards to versatile wings. Lacking that initial burst off the dribble NAW will need to develop some moves around the basket to even have a chance.
At the NBA level it is suspect Walker-Alexander’s defensive capabilities can translate. Despite averaging 1.9 steals a game, his per 40 totals out to a lowly 2.2.
I believe if Alexander-Walker carves a place for himself in the NBA it’ll be for his ability to knockdown jumpers and not for his defense. His average wingspan and body leave much to be desired and I think he’ll grade out to be a taller Terry Rozier than a shorter Danny Green.