1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Lurking outside of the expected lottery picks is a player with all of the attributes of a lottery player. He can handle the ball as a secondary creator, is a plus defender, can score from all three levels and is only 20 years old. His name is Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Offensively, he’s capable of handling the ball and running pick-and-rolls; he ran the point for Virginia Tech while point guard Justin Robinson was injured for much of last season. Yet he’s even more comfortable off the ball, as he would be in Oklahoma City, spotting up or attacking warped defenses.
On the other end of the court he is long (6’9.5″) and fluid, able to stay in front of opposing guards and make their life difficult dribbling or driving. He should be able to guard the most daunting of opposing backcourt players even early on, allowing Westbrook to slide to the less difficult assignment.
The Thunder need a reliable option at the 2, and Alexander-Walker may be the second-best one in the draft after Jarrett Culver — and the top if you view Culver as a 3. For him to fall to No. 21 would be a reflection on his lack of high-end athleticism and pull-up shooting, both of which should not be huge issues in Oklahoma City surrounded by athletes and creators.
Whether the Thunder address their needs at the 2, the 4 or fill out their bench, the 2019 NBA Draft is a great, low-cost opportunity to do so. This team has Paul George and Russell Westbrook, so it will always have a chance to make some noise. How much will depend on who they take in Thursday’s draft.