UTAH JAZZ

Nickeil Alexander-Walker Standing Out Early At Jazz Camp

Sep 28, 2022, 3:02 PM
Nickeil Alexander-Walker - Utah Jazz - Chicago Bulls...
Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the Utah Jazz during the first half of a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been an early standout at practice according to Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley.

The Jazz wrapped up day two of training camp on Wednesday, and Alexander-Walker drew the praise of his veteran teammate.

“Nickeil has really stood out to me a little bit with his ability to make plays and score and push the tempo,” Conley said.

Alexander-Walker joined the Jazz last year at the trade deadline in exchange for guard Joe Ingles. The third-year guard struggled to crack the rotation after the February trade and enters the season fighting for his NBA livelihood.

In a crowded Jazz backcourt, playing time may be hard to come by, especially with veterans like Conley, Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson on the roster.

Originally selected with the 17th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, Alexander-Walker was a regular in the New Orleans Pelicans rotation in his second and third year in the league, but never broke into Quin Snyder’s rotation.

New Jazz coach Will Hardy shared Conley’s optimism for the Virginia Tech product.

“He has good size, he’s a very good passer,” Hardy said. “He can put the ball in the basket — when he’s open and he shoots it, I think it’s going in.”

Seeing the ball go in will be a key for Alexander-Walker’s future with the Jazz. At 6-foot-6, the wing has ideal size for a modern NBA guard, but his three-point shooting percentage has never climbed above 35 percent in the NBA.

The Jazz have plenty of score-first guards in the rotation but would benefit from a floor-spacer who can also share the ball.

“He’s just really shown a confidence throughout open gym and training camp that has been really, really great for our group. His presence when he has the ball sort of settles everyone down,” Hardy said. “Nickeil’s been awesome.”

At media day Alexander-Walker admitted he’d been battling the high expectations he’d set for himself, hoping to find better success on the floor.

“I’m a perfectionist, I’m very detail-oriented,” the Jazz guard said. “So the small things, you want to make sure your intention is there, but if the result isn’t you’ve got to give yourself grace — you’re just human.”

Alexander-Walker has one year and $5 million left on his contract with the Jazz.

The team will make its preseason debut on Sunday in Edmonton against the Toronto Raptors.

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