It’s been a busy summer for the New Orleans Pelicans, beginning with a franchise-changing victory in the NBA Draft Lottery. That win allowed David Griffin and company to select Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick and, despite only a brief appearance in Las Vegas for the former Duke standout, everyone agrees that the Pelicans are in good shape with Williamson as the face of the franchise.
From there, Griffin landed the No. 4 overall pick as part of an asset-laden package from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade. The front office elected to move down in a deal with the Atlanta Hawks, taking Jaxson Hayes 8th overall. New Orleans grabbed the No. 17 overall pick in that deal, too, which it used to select Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Hayes grabbed the headlines on the strength of his unreal physical profile and, to be clear, the former Texas center produced one of the clear highlights of Summer League when he jumped over a defender for a big-time dunk. It would be easy to argue, though, that Alexander-Walker has been the better of the two, and observers have been blown away by his progress as he’s cemented himself as a potential steal in the desert.
Due to the combination of the league’s moratorium and trade machinations, Alexander-Walker didn’t take the floor in the Pelicans’ first two games. With Williamson’s all-too-short showing, some of the wind could have been taken out of the sails for those interested in the Pelicans, but Alexander-Walker’s NBA-ready game immediately jumped to the surface.
In two appearances, the 20-year-old guard is averaging 24.5 points and seven assists per game, with both figures good for top-three honors in all of Las Vegas. Beyond that, Alexander-Walker has been efficient as a scorer, shooting 53 percent from the floor, and he is contributing defensively to the tune of 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.