After a couple of scintillating performances, the young core of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes and Didi Silva has put the New Orleans Pelicans in an excellent position to advance to the single elimination tournament of the 2019 Summer League.
With Wednesday’s 99-78 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pelicans record improved to 3-1, but more importantly, the significant margin of victory pushed the team’s total to 10.0 points, trailing only the Dallas Mavericks’ 11.0 points among teams with three wins versus one loss. The top eight seeds will move onto tournament play starting on July 13th.
After scoring 28 points and nearly ending Mychal Mulder’s career, Hayes turned down the volume some, totaling 13 points, seven rebounds and one three-pointer (!) in 24 minutes of action versus Cleveland. Didi posted 12 points, three assists and two threes, and Kavell Bigby-Williams added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.
The story of the night though was Nickeil and his impressive all-around ability. Alexander-Walker led the Pelicans with 26 points last night, and he also added six assists, five rebounds and three treys. His 24.5 point per game average through two contests has him third on the summer league scoring list and a 7.0 assist average ranks second behind Bruce Brown’s league-leading 8.3 assists.
Nickeil’s play has been so impressive that a few of us believe he could crack Alvin Gentry’s rotation from the start at the backup point guard position. Passes like the following are hard to ignore.
With the Pelicans possessing a lot of NBA-caliber wings but an oft-injured Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday, who prefers to spend a good deal of time off the ball, Alexander-Walker could initially grab a role of 10-16 minutes.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, however, let’s first see how the Pelicans finish off summer league play. Following today’s slate of games, the date and time of their next contest should be announced shortly thereafter.