New Orleans Pelicans: Grading how Nickeil Alexander-Walker did
It was a season of growth for Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
The Canadian guard had an up-and-down year with the New Orleans Pelicans, but it seemed like everything was coming together for Alexander-Walker in the season’s closing months.
For most of the season, Alexander-Walker was regarded as a sparkplug by new head coach Stan Van Gundy. He was one of the few players that could come off the bench and get you buckets, be it for himself or for his teammates. At the end of the day, that skillset as a combo guard at 6-foot-6 is what makes Alexander-Walker’s upside so appealing.
In the first few months, Alexander-Walker showed a few nice flashes, namely a 37-point night against the Los Angeles Clippers in mid-January, but it still seemed like the NBA game was moving too fast for him at times. He was guilty of bad shot selection, executing the wrong passes, or simply letting the opponent dictate his tempo.
That changed as the year went on. After a stint out of the rotation in February, Alexander-Walker then got increasingly comfortable with his offensive playmaking duties and also started to tap into some of his defensive potential. Those DNPs quickly changed into 30-minute outings in which the former Virginia Tech standout was one of New Orleans’ best performers.
Unfortunately, Alexander-Walker picked up a high left ankle sprain in early April that sidelined him for eighteen consecutive games just as he was hitting his stride. It was a tough blow for the 22-year-old, but it hardly seemed like he had missed any time upon his return.
Alexander-Walker closed out a tumultuous second NBA season with a string of very solid performances, averaging almost 18 points, four assists, and a steal and a half per game over his last five contests.
Now, the next step for Alexander-Walker continues to be consistency. He needs to show that he can relied on for, let’s say 15 points a night, while taking care of the ball and making mature decisions on defense. If Lonzo Ball or Eric Bledsoe leave New Orleans, Alexander-Walker would theoretically step into their shoes and play a bigger role.