NBA Rumors: Nickeil Alexander-Walker Showing Potential To Become 'Pelicans Third Option' In 2021-22 Season

Basketball
Instagram | Nickeil Alexander-Walker

JB Baruelo

Since being selected as the No. 17 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker continues to show improvements with his game. After receiving an increased playing time last season, Alexander-Walker showed a better performance compared to his rookie year. In 46 games, he averaged 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.0 steal while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.

With the departure of Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe this summer, Alexander-Walker is expected to have a much bigger role in New Orleans in the 2021-22 NBA season.

Nickeil Alexander Impresses In Preseason Opener

Instagram | Nickeil Alexander-Walker

The Pelicans may have failed to secure a victory in their preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Alexander-Walker had a strong performance on Monday night. In just 21 minutes of action against the Timberwolves, the young shooting guard filled the stat sheet with 22 points, three assists, two steals, and one block while shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.

It may just be a preseason game but if he could establish the same intensity in the 2021-22 NBA season, Derrion Arrington of Fansided's Pelican Debrief believes that Alexander-Walker could make a strong case to become the "Pelicans third option" behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

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Can Nickeil Alexander-Walker Live Up To The Hype?

Instagram | Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Serving as the Pelicans' third-scoring option behind Williamson and Ingram would undeniably be a huge promotion for Alexander-Walker, who spent his two years in the league coming off the bench. However, there are plenty of things that Alexander-Walker needs to do to prove that he deserves to get the role.

First, Alexander-Walker would need to earn the trust of Pelicans head coach Willie Green and convince him to give a permanent spot in the starting lineup and a more significant role on the offensive end of the floor. The second thing is he must show the Pelicans that he's better than other players - Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte' Graham, and Trey Murphy - who are also hoping to be named as the team's third fiddle next season.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker Shines Again Against Magic

After an impressive performance against the Timberwolves, Green decided to make Alexander-Walker one of his starters in their second preseason game against the Orlando Magic. Alexander-Walker didn't waste the opportunity that was given to him by Green and showed why he deserves a permanent spot in their starting lineup.

In their dominant 104-86 victory over the Magic, Alexander-Walker posted 19 points, two rebounds, five assists, and two steals while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from beyond the arc, per NBA.com.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker Willing To Accept Any Role

If he becomes consistent with his performance and ends the preseason on a high note, Alexander-Walker undeniably has a strong chance of becoming one of Green's starters in the 2021-22 NBA season. However, on media day, Alexander-Walker said that he has no problem whether he's starting or coming off the bench. His main goal is to help the Pelicans consistently win games and return to the playoffs next year.

"I think if it mattered to me, that would be selfish, but I'd like to start - everyone would," Alexander-Walker said. "I think it's about the team, it's about winning, it's about contributing, that's my main thing."

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