Height: 6’6” Weight: 204 Wingspan: 6’10” Age: 20 College: Virginia Tech Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is one of the smartest players, and hardest workers in the draft. He is good for any culture, and he played for Buzz Williams, so he definitely knows what it’s like to work. He can help a team with his shot creation, IQ, and defense. He can hurt a team with turnovers, but his turnover numbers aren’t crazy high. He had a 1.4 A/to ratio, which for someone known as a playmaker should be better. He averaged 18.9 points and 4.6 assists per 40 minutes last year while shooting 37% from three. Those aren’t crazy numbers but he does all the little things to help a team win that doesn’t show up in the box score. He plays with confidence and always wants the ball at the end of games. His role will be a secondary ball handler, or a primary ball handler off the bench. Nickeil doesn’t pass the eye test because he is slow, but he simply gets the job done.
Walkers primary offense will be coming off of Pick and Rolls his entire career. He has great vision, and makes very high level reads. He was in the 73rd percentile in Pick and Rolls including passes, but I think he’s even better than this number suggests. His volume was ridiculously high At 6’6” he can see over the top of the defense, and this is a huge benefit for him. He needs to cut down his turnovers, but the natural vision is there. He has a very good hesitation, and he plays at his own pace and gets shoulder to shoulder every time. He didn’t isolate much last year, and he’s a pretty average iso player overall. He’s better creating with a ball screen, and Buzz Williams was smart by having him come off ball screens a ton. He was in the 41st percentile on isolations including passes. I think he is a better iso player than this number suggests, but still not great. He’s slow, so I don’t think he will punish bigs when they switch on him. He’s very crafty and changes speeds great so he still is a capable shot creator without a screen. He drives left 78% of the time, he needs to gain more confidence going right. Even when he goes right, he is much more comfortable passing with his left hand. He’s a pretty average shooter off the dribble, which is important to analyze because he will be shooting off the dribble often if he’s a secondary or primary ball handler. He was in the 53rd percentile and I would like to see him improve this. He’s also an average finisher and was in the 51st percentile. He can use both hands, and his length helps him here. He needs to improve his strength to help him finish with contact, and he’s not a very explosive so he doesn’t finish over people often.
Walker is best with the ball in his hands being a playmaker, but he’s pretty solid off the ball as well. He was in the 82nd percentile in spot ups last year, and is in the 76th percentile in off the catch shooting. He has a slow release, so he can’t get his shot up as much as he wants, but he makes it at a high clip. I wouldn’t consider him a great shooter, but definitely solid. Walker has potential as a transition player, and was in the 88th percentile, and this doesn’t even count passes so he’s even a better transition player than that number shows because he has great vision in transition. He walks the ball up the floor a lot and I wish he pushed it more. When he’s in transition he sees openings because his great feel for the game, so I hope he pushes the ball more in the NBA.
Walker is a great defender that always gives full effort. He can guard 1-3, and 4’s that aren’t strong. He has good length, but needs to work on his strength. He does a great job staying in front of the ball. He’s not an explosive leaper, or runner going forward, but his lateral speed is very good. He does a great job of staying locked in on the defenders waste, and doesn’t bite for any moves because of this. Locking in on the defenders waste is the key to on ball defense. Everyone that plays basketball at a high level knows this, but few actually follow through and are consistent with it. He’s very smart positioning off the ball, and always knows who to help off of, and who not too. He’s always in a stance and communicating to his teammates, which is something many players think they are too cool for. His effort and IQ make him a very good defender, despite not being strong or a great athlete.
Walker has a high floor, and is a safe pick, but he has an average ceiling. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong because he’s known to have an elite work ethic, but because of his lack of athleticism I can’t see him becoming an elite player. Despite that I would take him on my team any day of the week because his toughness, IQ, and work ethic. His floor is a solid playmaker and defender off the bench as a tall point guard. It is likely he becomes a starting guard one day, that succeeds coming off ball screens and playing good defense. If he improves his athleticism and shooting (especially off the dribble), he will become an above average starting guard, but not quite all star level. Whatever team drafts him is getting a worker that wants to win, and will be ready to contribute on both ends from day 1. Too many scouts doubt guys that are slow with a high IQ, and these guys have typically surprised people with how good they can be. Some examples are Joe Ingles, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White. They were all slept on and slipped in the draft, and teams picking in the mid-late teens need to be of this, and not make the mistake of passing on Walker for a better athlete that isn’t a skilled, tough, or smart player.