On paper, Nickeil Alexander-Walker took a step forward in his sophomore year in New Orleans. And while that ultimately may have been the case, it came in a very roundabout fashion that featured some ups and downs.
A disappointing first half of the season – career-high scoring performance against the Clippers aside – gave way to a strong second half. An ankle sprain looked to have sidetracked his strong play, but he still came back over the final five games to finish the year strong.
Stat of the Season
The Pelicans are going to focus on shooting this offseason and Alexander-Walker showed that he can fit that mold during that second-half stretch. Over his final 19 games, he shot 38.3% from the 3-point line on 6.7 attempts per game.
Much like his draft classmate Jaxson Hayes, Alexander-Walker struggled to find time and production in the first half of the season. While he saw time in 27 of the first 33 games, he shot just 41.6% from the field and 29.7% from the 3-point line in that span. Those figures also even include a 37-point outing against the Clippers.
After not playing in three of four games in the middle of the season, Alexander returned to the rotation and looked revitalized. Not only was he scoring at a higher and more efficient clip, he was also playmaking at a high level, too. That’s what made his ankle injury against Houston all the more frustrating.
Once he returned over the final five games after missing 17 games, he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, an encouraging sign heading into the offseason and next season.
With or without Ball, Alexander-Walker looked impressive and worthy of being a long-term piece in the Pelicans’ future, especially if the playmaking he flashed is a real improvement.