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2019 Draft Prospects: The In-State Rival Guards

Liberty v Virginia Tech Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Nickeil Alexander-Walker:

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Alexander-Walker is one of the more intriguing ball handlers who may be available at pick 21 in this year’s draft. His draft range is anywhere from 15 to somewhere in the early 20s. He is cousins with Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and gets some comparisons to him as well. Standing 6’5” with an approximately plus 4” wingspan, Alexander-Walker (also known as NAW) is best described as “smart” on the court.

NAW isn’t a notably great athlete but is certainly passable. He can defend well enough at the guard positions, though he’s not big enough to guard forwards. He tested reasonably well athletically, though not at an elite level. He tested similarly to Iman Shumpert per In addition to his playmaking, he can shoot threes pretty well (37% 3-point percentage during his sophomore year at Virginia Tech) and can score in the post as seen below (credit to Frozen Envelope):

In addition, he is a solid passer who sees the court well and is able to pass out of a double team:

He’s also good at finding cutters and shooters off the dribble (credit to NBA Draft Junkies):

Ultimately NAW’s biggest concerns seem relatively minor for players taken in this spot in the draft. His shooting form, though not poor, does seem to go back a bit far behind his head. That may be holding him back a bit as some have concern he isn’t the best off the dribble shooter (though this one does fall):

He’s a decent but not great athlete who doesn’t score well in traffic. His wingspan, while a plus, also isn’t terribly large for his height which could cause some matchup issues defensively. If NAW ends up falling to 21, he’d almost assuredly be the best player on the board. He’d be a great fit as a secondary ballhandler/playmaker who can shoot and play respectable defense.

Ty Jerome:

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The other guard in-state from the University of Virginia also makes an appearance here and is much more likely to be on the board at 21. Ty Jerome shares some slightly similar traits to NAW but in other regards is a much different player.

Jerome is certainly more of a pure point guard than Alexander-Walker, averaging nearly 6 assists per game while also being less turnover prone. But he’s also not nearly as athletic, testing below average at the combine. Jerome is also a fantastic 3-point shooter (39.9% on nearly 6 attempts per game).

Jerome is a smart passer. He is great both out of the pick-and-roll and makes solid drive and kick passes. He shows remarkable poise and knows how to time plays well, for example this dump off for a 3-pointer off of a drive (credit to NBA Draft Junkies):

Despite his slight inability to finish well at the rim, he does have a solid floater and would be a good fit with the starting lineup for the Thunder. He is an excellent shooter both off the dribble and off the catch:

Jerome’s main limitations are in his athletic ability. In addition to his questionable athleticism, he’s also got a very short wingspan. He did play for one of the best defensive units in the country though and has shown a willingness and ability to compete on that end.

Despite his physical limitations, Jerome would be more of an immediate fit than a project on the Thunder. He has certain physical disadvantages, but still projects as a player who can contribute sooner and likely be a role player right away.

This particular draft seems to be deep and flat in terms of quality perimeter players. Depending on the goal of the Thunder (assuming they don’t trade the pick), either Jerome or NAW could fit the roster next season well.