Analyzing Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker

December 18, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to tune in to WatchESPN to watch a basketball game that was played between Kentucky and Virginia Tech.  This matchup featured numerous prospects that could go in the first round of the upcoming draft, and it was a closely played, high scoring contest that was played on December 16th.   Kentucky was able to get a seven-point win, and Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo both played very well for the Wildcats.  Here are my thoughts on how they performed, as well as how the other various prospects fared on this day.

Kevin Knox had a very good showing in his team’s win over Virginia Tech.  He is a versatile scorer that can do so in many different ways, and he is also an unselfish player that possesses good court sense.  Knox did a very good job of shooting the basketball to space the floor for his team.  He was able to knock down a couple of open, spot-up threes off the catch to show his range, and he also made a contested, pull-up mid-range shot.

He also showed a good ability to score on quick, aggressive drives to the hoop.  Knox was able to use a crossover move to score in transition, and he also managed to draw an additional free throw on that play.  He also managed to draw a foul after attempting to throw down a thunderous dunk on a fast break drive, but he did miss once on a wild drive as he fell away another time.

Also, he possesses solid low post scoring skills.  Knox was able to score on a quick turnaround jump hook, and he is an agile, fleet footed big man that possesses sound footwork and shooting touch when he looks to score from the block.  He also managed to score on a fadeaway turnaround jumper another time, as he drew an additional free throw on that play, but there was one time where he missed a turnaround jumper after using a spin move.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays, and Knox is an active finisher around the basket.  Every once in a while, he may miss as he may not always play under control, but he generally will finish plays at the rim to get scores for his team.  Knox also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He tends to make good reads when he is on the floor, and he would throw crisp, accurate passes to set up a variety of scores for his teammates.   Knox was able to throw a lob pass after driving to the hoop to set up a score on the break, and he also found a teammate rolling to an open area to help get him a mid-range basket.

Though he did not get many rebounds for a player his size, he did manage to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Plus, he also exhibited above average at best defensive skills.  Knox did manage to quickly jump a pass to get a steal, and he would contest three-point shots to force misses.  He is a long, rangy defender that can play passing lanes as well as guard shooters due to his length and timing to do so.  However, sometimes Knox would be late on his rotations and give up too much space to his man, which would allow opponents to score on threes.  Also, he once bit on a pump fake on a switch, as this led to allowing a three-point basket that time.  In general, Kevin Knox had a very good game as he lead his team to a victory over Virginia Tech, and he is an athletic, skilled big man that can contribute in many different ways when he is on the floor.  With his skill set, he could end up being a likely lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

Kentucky’s 6-5 freshman swingman, Hamidou Diallo also played well in his team’s win over Virginia Tech, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender when he was on the court.  Diallo did a very good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He excelled at making quick spot-up threes off the catch, and he has a lot of range on his shot.  Diallo also managed to make a quick, mid-range jumper off the catch after rolling to an open area to get the ball.  He did struggle more to consistently make mid-range shots, but Diallo generally shot the ball well in this game.

Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Diallo was able to score on a tip in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound, and he also drew free throws on a thunderous dunk attempt on the break after running the floor to get the ball in transition.  Diallo is a very athletic swingman that possesses great speed and leaping ability, which can help get numerous scores around the basket.  He also flashed the ability to garner scores off the dribble.  Diallo managed to score off of a strong high post drive.  However, he tended to miss more on drives to the basket, as he would struggle to score in traffic in this game, and he would not always play under control.

Also, he displayed average at best playmaking skills.  Diallo did throw accurate interior passes, and he managed to throw a lob pass in transition once to set up a score for a teammate.  However, he did commit several turnovers, as he stepped out of bounds on a high post drive, and he also threw a bad inbounds pass that got intercepted.  Another time, Diallo committed a charging foul on a fast break drive to the hoop.

In addition, Diallo showed a decent ability to grab rebounds for his team.  He would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he managed to score on a tip in once, but he also was called for a push off when going for a board, as that led him to commit a foul that time.  He also showed off good defensive skills.  Diallo did a good job of reaching in to rip and poke balls away from opponents to get his team steals, and he also managed to jump a pass quickly to get another one for his team.  But sometimes, he can allow scores on drives to the hoop, as he can be out of position on occasion, and he also bit on a pump fake once.  In this game, Hamidou Diallo played very well, as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the court.  He is a high motor player that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he could be a solid value pick for a team in the mid first round range of the upcoming draft.

Virginia Tech’s freshman swingman, Nickeil Alexander-Walker did not have a great game, as he really struggled with turnovers on offense and he was held to below 10 points, but he did show a good ability to score on strong drives to the basket.  Alexander-Walker did not look to take jumpers often, and he missed a pull-up three after using nifty ball handling moves to get his shot up, but he ended up committing too many turnovers in this game.  Alexander-Walker had a tendency to get the ball poked away on drives to the basket, as he would be too out of control at times.  Another time, he dropped a pass and lost it to the opposition, and he also threw a bad pass where a teammate was not looking, which led to another turnover.

He also showed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Alexander-Walker managed to leap up to get a tough offensive board, and he showed a good willingness to crash the glass.  Another time, he tied up an opponent on a rebounding attempt.  However, he was not too noticeable defensively.  He did trail a cutter once, as his team ended up allowing a score around the basket.

In general, Alexander-Walker had some good moments in this game, but overall, he did not play well against Kentucky on this day.  Despite having a reputation for being a good shooter, he did not actually look to take jumpers often, and he missed his only three-point attempt.  He also showed a tendency to try to force the issue on offense, which would lead him to commit turnovers often.  He was also not the focal point of his team’s offense.  Right now, Alexander-Walker will need to improve his skill set offensively and learn how to move off the ball better, as he may need to spend some time honing his craft before he can decide to put his name in a future NBA draft.

Kentucky’s 6-11 freshman big man, Nick Richards had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Virginia Tech, even if there were times where he did not assert himself on the offensive end of the court.  He was efficient as a scorer around the basket, he was able to score on alley-oop dunks, and he also excelled as a passer and defender when he was on the floor.  Richards excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he is an athletic big man that possesses a good motor to get scores around the basket.  He ran the floor and caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk in transition, and he also drew free throws on a strong put back attempt as well as on a roll to the rim.  Plus, he also was open around the basket once, and he leapt up to catch another lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk.

He also flashed the ability to score in the post.  Richards managed to score after using a drop step move, but he had trouble scoring on jump hooks in this game.  He also showed off fairly good playmaking skills in this game.  Richards did a good job of moving the basketball as he would find open shooters, and he also set an on ball screen to help set up a score for a teammate another time.  But he did commit a traveling violation off of a high post drive once, as he will need to improve his ball handling skills.

Also, Richards did a good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would frequently crash the glass to help his etam garner boards on both ends of the floor.  He possesses a blend of good athleticism, leaping ability, and motor to get rebounds for his team.  Plus, he also defended well.  He excelled at blocking shots on drives to the hoop, and he also poked a ball away on a drive to almost get a steal once.  Richards showed good footwork as he rotated on a switch to defend on a drive to force a miss, and he can contest a variety of shots to force misses.

However, sometimes he can get beat on moves to the hoop, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores on plays around the basket.  Other times, he may give up too much space to his man, as he allowed a three-point basket once, and he allowed scores on rolls to the rim a couple of other times.  In general, Nick Richards had a decent showing, as he is a high motor player that can make hustle plays on both ends of the court.  He will still need to improve his skill level offensively, but he could be a good value pick for a team in the late first round range of the upcoming draft.

P.J. Washington had a good showing in Kentucky’s win over the Hokies.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he generally excelled as a facilitator and defender when he was on the court.  Washington showed a good ability to knock down jumpers, and he was able to make an open three-point shot off the catch.  Plus, he excelled as a scorer on the move, as he caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop in transition, and he also scored on a strong put back dunk off of an offensive board.

However, he was inconsistent as a scorer in the post.  He did score on a turnaround jumper, and he also drew free throws on a drop step move.  He also had trouble consistently making turnaround jump hooks, and he also missed awkwardly once after using a drop step move another time.  He also attempted to score on a high post drive, but he missed on that occasion.

Also, Washington showed off good playmaking skills in this game.  He excelled as a passer from the post, as he would hit cutters and find open shooters to set up numerous scores for his teammates.  He did a very good job of moving the basketball.  But sometimes, he would commit turnovers due to carelessness.  He can struggle to protect the basketball when posting up, and he also threw an inaccurate entry pass that got intercepted another time.  He also was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

Plus, he also showed off decent defensive skills.  Washington did a good job of poking balls away to help his team get steals, and he also managed to tip an entry pass away to a teammate.  Washington also managed to block a shot off of a drive, as he is a quick combination forward that possesses good length and timing to make plays on the ball, but he also would over-help in the paint, which would allow his team to allow opponents to score on three-point baskets.  He also can get beat on moves to the hoop to allow scores off the dribble as well as in the post, as he does not always do a good job of cutting off penetration when he is defending his man.  In general, P.J. Washington had a fairly good game, as he was able to help his team in a number of ways.  He has an intriguing skill set, and he could end up being drafted by a team in the late first to the second round portion of the NBA draft.

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Quade Green put forth a solid performance, as he helped lead his team to a solid win over Virginia Tech.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor, as he was able to score on a tough floater in traffic, and he showed the ability to make threes both off the catch and dribble.  Green showed a knack for making pull-up mid-range jumpers, as he can dribble off of a screen to get his shot up, and he has a fairly good first step to the hoop.  On one shot he made, he was able to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper on a bank shot.

Plus, he displayed solid playmaking skills.  He did a good job of throwing crisp, accurate passes, as he can throw lobs to set up scores for his teammates, and he also would find open shooters to set up additional scoring chances for his team.  However, he did not defend very well in this game.  Green had trouble defending shooters, as he ended up allowing opponents to score on three-point baskets.  Other times, he would not rotate to a man as he would just be guarding an area, but that would leave his teammate to have to guard two players at the same time, which would allow opponents to score on jumpers.  Other times, he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

In general, Quade Green is a smart, skilled point guard that can shoot, score, and run the table.  He may not be outstanding at any one area, but he will generally play a mistake-free brand of basketball.  With his skill set, he could end up being a second round pick whenever he elects to enter the NBA draft.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. had a fairly good game, as he showed a diverse skill set offensively, even though he committed some bad fouls in the second half as he would eventually foul out.  Blackshear is an athletic big man that can score the basketball inside and out.  He was able to make an open three-point shot off the catch, and he also scored on a drive after using a nifty spin move.  He also is a very good low post scorer as he has good strength, footwork, and shooting touch, and he was able to score once on a drop step, step through move.  He also possesses a good motor, and he was able to score on a couple of strong rolls to the basket.

However, he did commit plenty of turnovers on offense.  For the positives, Blackshear excelled as a passer from the post, and he would get a couple of assists in this game, but he had a tendency to commit traveling violations at times when posting up or driving to the hoop.  He also was called for a push in the back when going for an offensive board, and he later fouled out by setting a moving screen.  In this game, he would collect his fair share of boards, as he would look to crash the defensive glass.  Defensively, he was not too noticeable, but he did commit a couple of touch fouls around the basket, as one was when he was defending in the post that led to a three-point play for the opposition.

Virginia Tech’s 6-5 senior guard, Justin Bibbs had a good showing in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He did a good job of making spot-up threes off the catch, and he excelled as a scorer on aggressive drives to the basket, as he showed a knack for scoring on floaters in traffic.  Plus, he also displayed adequate defensive skills.  In this game, Bibbs was able to deflect a pass off of an opponent to force a turnover, and he also contested a mid-range shot to force miss.  However, he also committed a foul on a fastbreak drive that led to a three-point play for the opposition.  In general, Bibbs is a skilled basketball player that could potentially project into a 3 and D role at the next level.  He is having a solid senior season so far, and he could end up being a solid addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Virginia Tech’s 6-5 junior guard, Ahmed Hill did a great job of making spot-up threes off the catch, and he would take advantage of defenders leaving him open by knocking down outside shots from beyond the arc.  He also ran off a screen to make a contested three once in this game.   Plus, he also did a good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket, as he possesses good body control and leaping ability.  He is a skilled scorer that shoots the ball well, and he could be a potential second round pick in 2019.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed a good ability to score the basketball in the few times he looked to hoist up shots, and he was efficient as a scorer in this game.  Against Virginia Tech, he was able to make an open three, and he also scored on a cut to the basket.  He also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the basket, though he also can miss shots in traffic. 

Plus, he showed off decent defensive skills.  He also showed a knack for collecting steals, as he would pick off passes.  However, he struggled with his position defense, as he would commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and he would be late on his rotations, as he would allow scores to his opponents.

Right now, Gilgeous-Alexander may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft, as he is an athletic ball handler that has some scoring and facilitation skills, but he will still need to be a more consistent player in games.  If he does so, he could perhaps end up being a potential first round pick sometime in the future.