School: Virginia Tech
Height/Weight: 6’5, 205 lbs.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is one of the best pure scorers in the 2019 draft. The Toronto, Ontario native leads the Virginia Tech Hokies in scoring at around 18 points per game, and can fill it up in a variety of ways. Alexander-Walker is a sniper from long range, possessing excellent form and a quick release. He works extremely hard moving off the ball to get open, and it pays off, as he should be hitting his threes at greater than a 40% clip by the end of the season.
If you try to run Nickeil off the three point line, he can beat you in a variety of other ways. He has a strong pull-up game that he uses when defenders over pursue on closeouts to knock down mid-range jumpers. He can also put the ball on the floor and get all the way to the rim and finish consistently with both hands.
Alexander-Walker is excellent in transition as well, almost always making the right decision on whether to pull-up for a jumper, take it all the way to the rim, or draw a defender and dish it off to an open teammate.
One of Alexander-Walker’s biggest strengths is his high basketball IQ and great awareness on both ends of the floor. On offense, he’s one of the best players in the country at getting open off a screen, and he does so by being able to read how his defender fights through the screen, and then countering by going the opposite way from where the defender anticipates him to go. His IQ is also displayed on offense through his decision making and distributing abilities. Alexander-Walker averages a solid amount of assists per game which is especially impressive being the second ball-handling option behind Justin Robinson, a very ball-dominant point guard.
On defense, Alexander-Walker always has his head on a swivel, and has a knack for anticipating passes and gets into passing lanes often, evidenced by the greater than two steals per game he grabs.
While Nickeil Alexander-Walker is able to score in many ways at the college level, he does so with skill and craftiness, and doesn’t use his athleticism, do to the fact that he isn’t the greatest athlete. There’s no doubt he’ll be a solid spot-up shooter at the next level, but he may struggle to create his own shot. He’s tall enough to be an NBA two, but his slender frame and lack of explosiveness off of his first step could make it tough to get shots off against bigger, stronger defenders. Developing a quicker first step is something Nickeil definitely needs to work on and is something to keep an eye on with him as the season and pre-draft process goes on.
I mentioned his frame above, and it’s very important that he fills out and becomes stronger after he is drafted, because he won’t be able to rely on speed and athleticism at the next level. He’s not slow or a bad athlete by any means, but he will only be average in those categories compared to the rest of the NBA and a stronger, faster player could end up giving him matchup problems on both ends of the floor.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a clear first round pick thanks to his terrific scoring ability, high basketball IQ, and consistent high level of play on both ends of the court. He will make an impact right away as a scorer off the bench for whatever team decides to draft him.
As of now, Alexander-Walker appears to be a late-lottery-mid 20s draft pick. However, if he continues to shoot it at such a high level and posts improved numbers in other areas, top ten isn’t out of the possibility. Down the road, if he bulks up and finds ways to consistently create his own shot, he could turn into a lethal scorer and potential NBA all-star.