Nickeil Alexander-Walker steals the ball from Grayson Allen

Nickeil Alexander-Walker excels in Las Vegas, earns first-team honors

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Sixteen players were drafted before New Orleans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker on June 20, but by virtually any measure, none of those draftees outperformed the Virginia Tech product during the July 5-15 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. While Memphis rookie forward Brandon Clarke (No. 21 pick) claimed MVP honors, en route to the Grizzlies capturing the 2019 championship, among summer leaguers who appeared in at least four games, Alexander-Walker placed first in scoring (24.3 ppg), fourth in assists (6.0 apg) and third in steals (2.8 spg).

After splitting their first two games in Nevada, the summer Pelicans reeled off three straight wins behind Alexander-Walker and fellow first-round pick Jaxson Hayes (second-team All-Summer League), losing for the only time in overtime vs. Memphis in Sunday’s semifinals. It was only the second time in the seven-year history of the NBA Summer League’s tournament format that the Pelicans advanced that far. In addition, Alexander-Walker became just the third New Orleans player to garner first-team status in Las Vegas (the others were Seth Curry in ’15 and J.R. Smith in ’05).

“He has a skill set where he can shoot the ball, defend, takes pride in his defense, can handle the ball, can pass, has good vision,” summer head coach Fred Vinson said Sunday of the 20-year-old’s well-rounded game. “He’s just a really balanced basketball player. I think that’s going to bode well for us when the regular season comes around, having another guy who can make plays the way he can. I’m excited and happy for him, happy for the way he played. Nickeil earned whatever achievements he gets with All-Summer League teams. Well deserved. He was fun to watch and fun to coach.”

Once he and Hayes were cleared to play following the NBA’s official approval of the Lakers trade July 6, the initial plan for Alexander-Walker was for him to start at shooting guard, but his playmaking and court vision quickly shifted him to point guard. The Toronto native immediately made numerous well-executed dishes to teammates, including several to Hayes that ended in highlight-reel dunks.

“I just try to keep it simple with my mentality,” Alexander-Walker said of adapting on the court as the game progresses. “Not really focusing on what (position) I’m playing, but just going out there and playing. I let the game gravitate and pull me toward where it wants to go. I’ve always been told to never force the issue, so whenever I’m out there, I just try to get a feel for it.”

Over the final four Pelicans summer games, Alexander-Walker and Hayes (16.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg), along with second-round pick Didi Louzada (11.0 ppg, 44 percent three-point shooting), demonstrated why New Orleans is excited about its deep ’19 draft class, which was headlined by No. 1 pick Zion Williamson (11 points in nine minutes vs. New York on July 5).

“We started off summer league being about Zion Williamson, and rightfully so – he’s the No. 1 pick in the draft and an outstanding player himself,” Vinson said, while noting that the Duke standout was extremely supportive of teammates in practices and from the sideline. “Once he was out, all of the attention changed. I think guys settled down and it became less of a quote, unquote ‘show’, because obviously fans came to see Zion and a show.”

While Louzada will be “stashed” in Australia’s pro league next season – with New Orleans retaining his rights – Williamson, Alexander-Walker and Hayes will spend the next two-plus months preparing for Pelicans training camp in the fall. Alexander-Walker said Sunday he’s looking forward to the next step in his rookie year.

“I’m excited. It’s a dream come true,” he said, before learning this week that he’d been invited to Canada’s national team training camp. “Everything I’m doing is part of the dream. I’m just taking all the time I have to soak it up. I’m going to get some rest, and then try to get better (prior to the start of the season). This is when the real work starts and the big dogs come out.”

Summer League First Team | Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Check out the best plays from Nickeil Alexander-Walker over Summer League in Las Vegas.

Summer League Playlist

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Summer League First Team | Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Check out the best plays from Nickeil Alexander-Walker over Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jul 16, 2019  |  00:01

Summer League Second Team | Jaxson Hayes

Check out the best plays from Jaxson Hayes over Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jul 16, 2019  |  00:02

Pelicans Jaxson Hayes Highlights from 2019 NBA Summer League

New Orleans Pelicans F/C Jaxson Hayes' highlights from his high-flying performances at 2019 NBA Summer League.
Jul 15, 2019  |  02:47

Highlights from Pelicans-Grizzlies Overtime Semifinal Game | 2019 Summer League

Highlights from the New Orleans Pelicans vs Memphis Grizzlies 2019 NBA Summer League Semifinal game.
Jul 14, 2019  |  02:55

Trevon Bluiett with 16 in Semifinal | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Trevon Bluiett put up 16 points in a loss to the Memphis grizzlies in overtime of the 2019 NBA Summer League Semifinal
Jul 14, 2019  |  01:03

Marcos Silva with Huge Finish Late | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Marcos Louzada Silva does it himself late in the game and gets the tough hanger to go vs the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA Summer League Semifinal
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:23

Nickeil with a Pair of Clutch Steals Late | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a couple of clutch steals late in the game vs the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 Summer League Semifinal
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:25

Marcos Louzada Silva Steal and Finish | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Pelicans guard Marcos Louzada Silva finds the ball in traffic and takes it cross-court for the nice finish vs the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA Summer League Semifinal
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:14

Jaxson Hayes Halfcourt Alley-oop | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League

Jaxson Hayes with another alley-oop against the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2019 Summer League Semifinal
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:22

Nickeil with a Pretty Dime to Kenrich | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League

Nickeil Alexander-Walker leaves a pretty pass for Kenrich Williams to finish during the 2019 Summer League Semifinal game against the Memphis Grizzlies
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:18

Jaxson Hayes Alley-oop | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Jaxson Hayes with the alley-oop during the 2019 Summer League Semifinal game against the Memphis Grizzlies
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:13

Pelicans Team Passing Leads to a Triple | Pelicans-Grizzlies Summer League Highlights

Pelicans nice team passing ends with a Jalen Adams three during the 2019 Summer League Semifinal game against the Memphis Grizzlies
Jul 14, 2019  |  00:18

Summer League: Kenrich Williams 7-13-19

Kenrich Williams speaks to the media following the Pelicans's big win over the Miami Heat at NBA Summer League.
Jul 13, 2019  |  01:38

Summer League: Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker 7-13-19

Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker talk about the Pelicans' victory over the Miami Heat in Summer League.
Jul 13, 2019  |  03:41

Summer League: Fred Vinson 7-13-19

Summer League Head Coach Fred Vinson talks about the Pelicans' hard fought victory tonight to advance to the next round of the Summer League tournament.
Jul 13, 2019  |  03:39

GAME RECAP: Pelicans 101, Heat 100

Nickeil Alexander-Walker goes off for 34 points and adds five assists as New Orleans drops Miami in overtime.
Jul 13, 2019  |  00:01

Nickeil Alexander-Walker Highlights from Pelicans-Heat Summer League Quarterfinals

Highlights from Pelicans Nickeil Alexander-Walker scoring a game-high 34 points to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 threes and 4 steals vs the Miami Heat in the 2019 Summer League Quarterfinals
Jul 13, 2019  |  01:55

Jaxson Hayes Scores 15 in Summer League Quarterfinals | Pelicans-Heat Highlights

Pelicans F/C Jaxson Hayes Highlights vs the Miami Heat in the 2019 NBA Summer League Quarterfinals
Jul 13, 2019  |  01:46

Kenrich Williams with 17 in Summer League Quarterfinals | Pelicans-Heat Highlights

Pelicans F Kenrich Williams Highlights vs the Miami Heat in the 2019 NBA Summer League Quarterfinals
Jul 13, 2019  |  01:52

Nickeil Postgame Interview | Pelicans-Heat Summer League Quarterfinals

Nickeil Alexander-Walker postgame interview after scoring a game-high 34 points against the Miami Heat in the 2019 Summer League quarterfinals
Jul 13, 2019  |  00:59

Nickeil with 14 in the 4th | Pelicans-Heat Summer League Quarterfinals

Nickeil Alexander-Walker continues his strong Summer League with a tough 14 points in 4th quarter, helping the Pelicans get to overtime.
Jul 13, 2019  |  00:40

Bluiett Over the Shoulder And-1 | Pelicans-Heat Summer League Quarterfinals

New Orleans Pelicans guard Trevon Bluiett with the over the shoulder circus shot and-1 vs the Miami Heat in the 2019 Summer League quarterfinals.
Jul 13, 2019  |  00:42

Pelicans Jaxson Hayes Monster Dunk vs Heat | Summer League Quarterfinals

Jaxson Hayes with the huge dunk in transition off the bounce pass vs the Heat in the 2019 Summer League quarterfinals
Jul 13, 2019  |  00:45

Pelicans-Heat 1st Half Highlights | Summer League Quarterfinals

1st half highlights from the New Orleans Pelicans vs Miami Heat 2019 Summer League quarterfinal game
Jul 13, 2019  |  01:52

Top plays from Pelicans Summer League 2019

The New Orleans Pelicans provided some epic show-stopping highlights from Summer League courtesy of Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Frank Jackson, Kavell Bigby-Williams, and the rest of the Pelicans' high-flying Summer League team.
Jul 11, 2019  |  04:09

Highlights: Nickeil Notches 26 vs Cavs | Pelicans-Cavs Summer League

Highlights from the New Orleans Pelicans defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-78 in the final game before Summer League playoffs begin.
Jul 10, 2019  |  02:54

Jaxson Hayes with 13 vs Cavs in Summer League | Pelicans-Cavs Highlights

Jaxson Hayes had another good night, scoring 13 points and adding 7 rebounds, a block, and an assist vs the Cleveland Cavaliers during 2019 Summer League
Jul 10, 2019  |  00:01

Jaxson and Nickeil Postgame Interview | Pelicans-Cavs Summer League

Pelicans Nickeil-Alexander Walker and Jaxson Hayes both had another strong performance in the 2019 NBA Summer League as the Pelicans defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-78.
Jul 10, 2019  |  02:06
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