Buzzketball in an NBA Mock Draft

Okay okay okay.

It's in a 2019 mock draft. But still, it's interesting. Behind the paywall, ESPN's Jonathan Givony laid out a way-too-early mock for next year's NBA Draft, and had Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker going 17th to the Pistons.

It may seem like a trivial thing to talk about now, but here are a few interesting points to think about:

He has all the measurables that scouts like. Long arms, cross-positional ability (both on offense and defense), and thinks the game as a point guard despite playing off ball.

Here's a pull from a Sports Illustrated article about him in November:

That ranking still undersells his potential. In an age where the ability to perform certain tasks on the floor increasingly takes precedent over rigid positional designations, Alexander-Walker can bring more value to the NBA than many of the players rated above him. He can initiate offense in the half court, manufacture quality looks off the bounce, set the table for teammates, threaten defenses with his shooting range and check a range of perimeter players. Any team would welcome that package of skills in its backcourt, even if Alexander-Walker lacks the superstar ceiling of the most esteemed guards last year's draft class, which saw eight fly off the board in the first 13 picks.

He's also rallied back from a down stretch in December-January to put up consistent numbers over the last six games: 11 ppg, 4rpg, 49% from the field, 55% from three, and a few grown man shots:

I know this specific mock draft is for 2019, but if Alexander-Walker continues to play this way down the stretch, I have to wonder if his leaving this March is a possibility. SI has him ranked as the 41st best prospect on their Big Board, and had this to say:

Alexander-Walker continues to flash upside despite inconsistent play. While he may need a second year of college to round out his game, he's shot well from three, has played on and off the ball and been a nice piece for the Hokies. He needs to develop his body and learn to play more physically, but his size and versatility are a nice place to start. If he realizes his defensive potential and expands his playmaking skills (playing on the ball more will eventually accelerate that), Alexander-Walker will be able to contribute. He's a good candidate to test the waters and garner feedback.

If he continues to shoot above 50% from behind the arc, I'd imagine he'll receive positive feedback. I don't want to speculate on his future, but it's something to keep an eye on.

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Comments

I would love to see the young man stick around another year, but I won't be too mad at him if he bolts after this year. Especially because I think it'll take an outstanding March to push his draft stock up to the point where it'll be a wise decision.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

The NBA draft is so much crazier than the NFL. So few spots, players from overseas, so many college players. I hope he gets good feedback and goes as far as he can without an agent but I hope he comes back for another year.

2019 mock draft? We haven't even had the 2018 draft and declarations yet.

Days like this is where I really miss an ESPN subscription /s

NAW's cousin will declare this year. You gotta hope his stock rises like crazy through next season and he can get picked in a higher spot than Shai.

I think NAW will stay another year. In November I thought he was for sure gone, but he hasn't grown quite as fast as some of these other player that are going to be one and dones. He seems like a player that could benefit mightily from one more year of consistent play as far as teams view of him goes.

On another note, I think Bibbs with his offensive improvement this year could make it on a team eventually. I think there are teams that will love his quick release and sharp shooting abilities enough to get him in the G league. From there if he can just learn to shoot off the dribble he has the size and athleticism to be an nba wing. Solid rebounder, good perimeter defender and won't be a liability on offense. His improvement inside the arc this year has really stood out to me.

Agreed. I think NAW could use a little more development on his drives through the lane against some of the lengthy teams (FSU) that he will see similarly in the NBA. From recent memory it seems like he gets about halfway there and then ends up shooting an off balance floater.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

I'm glad you brought that up, because when I watched his HS film, he always seemed a little slow off the dribble, not super explosive but just found a way to get defenders on his hip and fight his way to the basket. I think a big concern NBA teams might have is his inability to get penetration and finish around the rim. He hasn't been able to get more athletic defenders on his hip at this level and is one big part of his game he needs to work on.

Interesting assessment on Bibbs. Obviously he's a very good shooter with a quick release, but I disagree about his athleticism. Maybe it's deceptive, but he never pops off the screen as that type of player.

On offense, he doesn't blow by defenders with the ball in his hands. Instead, he's figured out how to leverage the threat of his 3-point shot to get to the rim. When a defender is running at him, he's gotten good at the pump fake and side step to elude his defender because they're scared of his shooting ability.

On defense, he's never shown the athleticism or instincts that would lead me to believe he'd be capable of NBA-level defense. He's got decent length, but for a guy his size he doesn't seem to cause too many problems as a defender. I think he gets caught ball-watching a little too often and allows his man to elude him on cuts and screens.

I think he has the tools to be a fringe NBA player, but I think he would struggle to crack a rotation given that he's probably not quick enough to defend guards in the league and probably not big enough to guard the longer wing players the league loves right now.

By contrast, I think Chris Clarke is exactly the type of player who would get a longer look in the NBA. Length, athleticism, and great court vision are where he holds advantages over Bibbs. He's also shown in a limited sample that his jump shot is improving. If Chris Clarke can maintain his current 3-point percentage (37.9%) with more attempts, he's exactly the type of player NBA teams would love to have on their squad. (FWIW, that 37.9% would rank right around 60th in the NBA by percentage if he had enough attempts.)

I didn't mean to say that he is a super athlete and I more meant it in terms of his rebounding game. For his size and playing for Buzz, he could be a valuable rebounder at his position and I actually think he could guard some of the longer wings. You're right that he's not a great system defender, but I think one on one against guys he could hold his own in the NBA. It's also a very unique defense we run that could be causing some of the problems we see with our players.

But offensively I think he would just be a sharp shooter that can make plays inside the arc if he needs to. Jarrell Eddie made a few rosters and literally the only thing he could do was shoot. Bibbs has just as quick a release, but is more of a threat all around offensively IMO.

As for Chris, I've always thought he could be an MKG type player, but I'm starting to lose confidence. MKG is already such a niche player that hasn't had near the predicted success people thought (partially due to injury) and he is a good bit bigger than Chris. The shots he makes around the basket often on mismatches, which is nearly all of his production, won't fly against NBA bigs. As for his 3-pt shooting, it's just bad. I know his percentage isn't bad but those are totally wide open nobody even near him shots. Move him back to the NBA line and put somebody on him and he won't make any 3s unless he really works on it.

I think they both have potential to bounce around and prove themselves to make a roster but both have some pretty big weaknesses they need to work on before they can fit in in the NBA.

College FT% is actually a decently better predictor of 3FG% success in the NBA than college 3FG% is. Many well known, respectable basketball writers have mentioned this.

I think that's what gets me for Clarke... he's just a career 68% FT shooter. He will need to defend at elite levels (see MKG, Andre Roberson) to offset the fact that teams won't guard him at the 3 pt line until he proves he can make them. He's not a bad passer, but a lot of his assists are on cuts to the hoop in transition/ semi-transition. That same pace of play shows that he gives up WAY too many turnovers (abysmal 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio). He'll probably be G-League/fringe at best wrt the NBA, as much as I'd like to see him succeed

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

After the first five games I thought he was going to be one-and-done, but I also got the impression that he would be at least our second-best player. Since ACC play started, he's been hot and cold, and hasn't shown me that he is in our top-2, so I've began to lean towards him staying and growing for a second year until he can become more reliable. His potential is as high as any freshman we've had though.

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

I'm OK with it - makes finding playing time for the next set of top draft classes easier.

I doubt he leaves this year, 2nd rounders aren't guaranteed contracts. He didn't seem like a guy who came in so set on being one and done that he would go no matter what (like Frank Jackson). He would be stupid not to declare and see what feedback he gets from the Combine. Caleb Swanigan was a monster after he got feedback from NBA teams.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

He would be the second Hokie ever to go in the first round of the draft only to Dell Curry I believe. Pretty good company to be in.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.