An Early Season Look at Nickeil Alexander-Walker in the 2K Classic

November 19th, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Virginia Tech’s freshman swingman, Nickeil Alexander-Walker play against Saint Louis and Washington in the 2K Classic at the Madison Square Garden.  I was able to catch him play for parts of those two games, as he struggled in the first game, and then he played much better against the Huskies.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, and how he may currently rate as a prospect for the NBA.

Alexander-Walker is a good shooter that can make many threes off the catch.  He can make quick, long-range jumpers on spot-up opportunities, and Alexander-Walker moves quite well off the ball on offense.  He can especially take advantage when defenders lose track of him off the ball, which can enable him to get open for three-point shots.

Plus, he is also an agile player that can score on drives in transition. However, he is not overly explosive nor an elite athlete, as he can struggle to consistently get all the way to the hoop off of drives in the half court.  Alexander-Walker is a skilled ball handler that can split double teams, but he does not possess an elite burst to the hoop, as he can struggle to finish plays in traffic, and he can get his shots blocked every once in a while.  He does not likely project to be an iso player at the next level, but he could be able to garner scores off the dribble either on fast breaks or through creative means on offense.

He is an unselfish player that possesses decent playmaking skills.  Alexander-Walker can throw outlet passes, and he will look to make the extra pass.  However, he can be too passive on offense at times, as he may not always look to aggressively look to take shots in games.  He may possess a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Alexander-Walker did not grab many rebounds against Saint Louis, but he was considerably more active on the glass as he hauled in significantly more boards against Washington.

Also, Alexander-Walker may be a good defensive player.  He is a tough, gritty player that will get after it defensively, as he can pressure ball handlers, and he can poke balls away to help his team get deflections and steals.  Alexander-Walker is a good shot blocker for a player his size, and he also can contest jumpers when defending in the post to force misses.  Plus, he will actively look to fight through screens.   However, sometimes he may gamble for steals when defending drives, which can cause him to get beat off the dribble to allow a score on occasion.

In general, Nickeil Alexander-Walker struggled in his first game in the 2K Classic against Saint Louis, but he played much better on the next day as his team was able to cruise to a win over Washington.  Alexander-Walker is an athletic, skilled shooter that could be a potential first round pick in 2018, and he looks to be an adequate prospect for the NBA, as he could end up being a solid role player at that level.

Other Notes:

On a side note, this also provided me the opportunity to catch my alma mater, the Saint Louis Billikens in action, as they were able to get a solid win over Virginia Tech, but they ended up getting blown out by Providence in the 2K Classic title game.

The Billkens seem noticeably different from how they have looked in years past, as this team seems to be an athletic, defensive minded team that plays unselfishly, and they seem to have plenty of talented players that could develop into promising prospects for the NBA in future drafts.  The Billikens still need to develop their ability to shoot the basketball, as well as to develop players to be more consistent scoring threats on offense, but I was quite pleased with how they played against Virginia Tech, and they have the potential to be an NCAA Tournament team this year, and perhaps beyond.

In watching the Saint Louis-Providence game, there was one player that caught my eye in the 2K Classic title game, and that was Friars’ senior point guard, Kyron Cartwright.  Perhaps in the mold of a Fred VanVleet type, Cartwright effectively ran the team and he showed a knack for consistently making solid basketball plays as the primary facilitator and distributor on the floor.

Also, Providence’s senior forward, Jalen Lindsey showed a very good ability to make quick, spot-up threes off the catch, and he would draw fouls upon the opposition off of tough motor plays around the basket.  He also was able to intercept an inaccurately thrown pass to help his team obtain a steal.  He sort of reminds me of current New Orleans Pelicans’ swingman, Treveon Graham, as Lindsey could be a potential 3 and D type of role player in the NBA if things break his way.

Providence’s senior forward, Rodney Bullock was anticipated to be the best player in the 2K Classic title game after Virginia Tech lost to Saint Louis, and he did play well in his team’s win over the Billikens.  Bullock has seemed to significantly improve his jump shot, as he can make threes and mid-range jumpers both off the catch and dribble, and he even used a crossover move to make a long two-point shot.  Plus, Bullock can get scores on hustle plays, as he managed to draw free throws on a dunk attempt off a cut.

He also played unselfishly, as he would get his shots within the flow of the offense. In addition, he also may be an adequate defender, as he will play passing lanes, and he can get his hands on balls to come away with steals and deflections.  However, he can be foul prone at times, as he may struggle to defend quicker players off the dribble.  In general, Rodney Bullock had a solid game in his team’s win over Saint Louis.   He had a solid tournament overall in the 2K Classic, and he could end up being a player similar to Jaron Blossomgame, as he could be a potential second round pick in 2018.

Saint Louis’ junior swingman, Javon Bess transferred from Michigan State, and he has been a really good player for the Billikens this season.  He is a powerful off guard that can score on strong, aggressive drives to the basket, and he also is an energetic player that can make numerous defensive plays to help his team get rebounds and steals.  He will need to improve his jump shot, but he could be on NBA scouts and teams’ radar next year, as he is playing very well, and he led his team in scoring in both games in the 2K Classic.

I was also able to catch a little bit of the Boise State-Illinois State game that was played this weekend.  Boise State’s senior star player, Chandler Hutchsion played quite well, as he is an athletic combo forward that excelled at scoring on strong drives to the basket, and he could be a potential second round pick in the upcoming draft, especially if he continues to play well this season.

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