Wednesday, June 12, 2019
2019 Celtics Draft Prospects: Nickeil Alexander Walker
Due to the expert negotiating skills of Celtics GM Danny Ainge, the Celtics, yet again, have multiple first-round picks. Boston will be selecting the No. 14, 20 and 21 in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here's a look at a potential prospect Ainge and co. will have their eyes on...
One of the prospects who's most intriguing for the Celtics in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft is Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Alexander-Walker, 20, spent two seasons at Virginia before declaring for the NBA Draft.
He represents the same platitudes applied to someone like Jalen Brunson of the 2018 NBA Draft class. After having spent two seasons at the collegiate level, NAW is a least-risk prospect who can read the floor but his inability to create separation due to lack of athleticism will be a challenge.
Defensively, Alexander-Walker fit in perfectly at VT -- a facet of his game that makes him an intriguing option for the Celtics. He especially shined playing in a zone defense, this was where Alexander-Walker's overall feel and awareness came into play, it also led to him racking up steals.
The speed of the collegiate game, of course, pales in comparison to the pace of the NBA. He'll need to become quicker on his feet and showcase that he can shoot the 3-pointer at the pro level to expand his game on the opposite end of the floor.
NAW struggled mightily against a lengthy/athletic Duke squad, anchored by top-tier prospects like Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. This matters for the Celtics, a team looking to slow down the dominant Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks and other top-tier teams like the Raptors -- Boston will certainly be looking into defensive-minded draftees.
The jury is still out if Alexander-Walker can defend at a high level in the NBA, despite averaging 1.9 steals a game. His per 40 totals out to a lowly 2.2.
If Alexander-Walker carves a place for himself in the NBA, it'll be for his ability to knock down jumpers and not necessarily for his defense. His average wingspan and body type leave much to be desired and he'll grade out to be a taller Terry Rozier, rather than a shorter Danny Green.
Photo used is courtesy of Getty Images