Following one of Virginia Tech’s most successful men’s basketball seasons in program history, sophomore guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker will hear his name called this Thursday in the 2019 NBA Draft. Alexander-Walker averaged 16.2 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game as he led the Hokies to the Sweet Sixteen. Dell Curry’s selection as the 15th pick of the 1986 draft by the Utah Jazz is currently the highest a Virginia Tech player has been picked in program history. Alexander-Walker is expected to be drafted anywhere between picks 10 and 20, which could cement his legacy as the highest Tech draft pick in school history.
The Collegiate Times sports editors made their predictions on when Alexander-Walker will hear his name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in this special edition draft profile.
18: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers would strike gold drafting Nickeil Alexander-Walker at the 18th pick and pairing him in the backcourt with Victor Oladipo. The Pacers lost shooting guard Tyreke Evans to suspension and will likely watch Bojan Bogdanović walk in free agency. Alexander-Walker would solidify Indiana’s core with Oladipo at the point and Myles Turner down low. The 20-year-old sophomore could easily be drafted earlier than 18th, but the Pacers seem like the best fit in the middle of the draft. Alexander-Walker worked out with Indiana alongside former teammate Justin Robinson on June 17. With Alexander-Walker, the Pacers are gaining an NBA-ready guard that will help them regain their presence in the NBA Eastern Conference.
15: Detroit Pistons
While the Pacers seems to be the best fit for Alexander-Walker’s skillset, I see the Pistons going with the Toronto-native in order to address a major need at guard. With Reggie Jackson entering a contract year, and José Calderón, Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington all entering free agency this offseason, the Pistons will need a player like Alexander-Walker with a combo guard skill set to come in and make an impact. Detroit seems to be in a weird spot as a low-end playoff team with little ceiling to get much better than that. They desperately need to give their two stars in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond some help on the outside and Alexander-Walker could fit that role perfectly. His ability to shoot from the outside as well as slash in toward the basket makes him a perfectly reliable third or fourth scoring option in an offense built around its two bigs. He also developed a bit as a playmaker in Justin Robinson’s absence, as he was asked to handle point guard duties for the first time in his collegiate career, which could end up paying off for him — as he’ll no doubt be asked to play valuable minutes early on in his career. While Alexander-Walker wouldn’t put the Pistons over the top as a contending team, he would have a chance to become a reliable scoring option for a team trying to find its footing in the incredibly competitive Eastern Conference.
16: Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have a good chance of drafting the Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker with its 16th pick on Thursday. The Magic are looking for shooting prospects and worked out with Alexander-Walker this month. Alexander-Walker shot 47.4% from the field and 37.4% from the three-point line during his time with the Magic. Alexander-Walker first caught the attention of Orlando as he filled the role of Justin Robinson when he missed most of ACC play this past season. Alexander-Walker proved himself as a shooter and playmaker and doubled as a great defensive man. Orlando finished close to the middle of the Eastern Conference rankings after the conclusion of the NBA regular season, and while the 16th pick may not bring the Magic a “star,” Alexander-Walker is a good option for a consistent scorer and playmaker.
The consensus of the Collegiate Times sports editors is that Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be drafted near the 15th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. However, anything can happen on draft night and Alexander-Walker is a high-ceiling prospect who could hear his name called in the top 10. Alexander-Walker’s drafting into the NBA is one of the many high points of the Buzz Williams era in Blacksburg. Easily considered one of the best players in program history, Alexander-Walker has a chance to become Virginia Tech’s highest ever NBA draft pick.