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Thread: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

  1. #1

    Default Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    We are nearing the end of the draft threads, but we have a few more left to go. Tonight, the focus is one of the fast risers in the draft, the 6'8 Forward from West Virginia, Joe Alexander.

    Alexander has a very interesting pedigree. He is a late bloomer, and has only been playing competitive basketball for about 5 years, as he only took up the game in high school. His schooling in college makes him a very unique hybrid of radically different coaching styles, from the finesse and intellectual Princeton style of John Beilein, to the much more aggressive and defensively inclined Bobby Huggins. The fact that Alexander seemed to respond to the much more confrontational and dictatorial Huggins and ratchet up his game speaks highly of the potential toughness and work ethic Alexander will bring with him to the NBA.

    Alexander probably works out in a practice setting better than he actually plays the game. Some of athleticism is off the charts, as he reportedly is a dunking machine. You see on some of the websites still photos of Alexander doing amazing things, including leaping up and head-butting the rim! It was reported a few weeks ago by draft express that Alexander would likely move up on people's boards once they worked him out and put him in drills, and that prediction has come true. projected to go in the 20-25 range based on how he actually plays the game, he now may go as high as 8th to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    But the game isnt played in a controlled, one on one environement with coaches standing around blowing whistles. It is played 5 on 5, and in the course of an actual game, Alexander isn't quite as impressive as his talents would indicate he would be.

    As you know, our Pacers biggest single weakness by far in my opinion is an inability to defend the perimeter, in particularly the wing position. We simply have no one at this time who can defend our opponents best player. I put in some tape of Alexander, hoping I might see someone who athletically has the size, strength, work ethic, technique, and desire to be a shutdown defender. If I had seen it, I might be on here recommending him as our selection, if he is there for us.

    But, I didn't not see that. In fact I think at this moment Alexander is a below average technique defender, with above average athleticism that goes wasted most of the time. He has many holes in his technique, which considering he played last year for a very good defensive teacher in Coach Huggins, that is a concern.

    Alexander is enthusiastic, but very raw as on the defensive end. He does put forth the effort however, which at least gives you hope for his future if he gets the right guidance at the NBA level. His biggest weakness is that he stands too upright in his defensive stance, which violates every fundamental rule of being a good defender: Lowest man in a one on one situation wins! He gets beat off the bounce way too often, mostly by guys who arent that good. He has recovery ability because of his flexibility and natural athleticism, but he takes false steps too often, and crosses his feet while sliding in his stance way too much for a defensive coach like myself. It is in these fundamental areas you see his lack of development at an early age....most kids quit crossing their feet while sliding at about age 14-16.

    This lack of good teaching also rears its ugly head on one of my personal defensive pet peeves: contesting jump shots. No doubt, Alexander can sky off the ground, so contesting a person who rises up in front of him to shoot SHOULD be a strength of his. But, because he is off balance too often in his slide, his man often gets his shot off over Alexander because he hasnt reached the peak of his jump yet. Add that to the fact that quite often Alexander contests jump shots with the incorrect hand (the arm furthest away from the ball...on the 4 tapes I watched to write this, Alexander is almost 100% a "right handed contester", which if guarding a right handed shooter is bad).

    Those defensive flaws MIGHT be overcame at the NBA level. Unlike lots of players, Alexander seems to have the willingness to learn and improve, and he certainly has the athleticism to become better. We will see what happens, but clearly he has a long way to go.

    Offensively, Alexander probably looks really good when guarded by a chair or some other coach in a one on one drill, but playing 5 on 5 he has some negatives.

    Because Huggins chose to more or less keep the "Princeton style" offense his predecessor was running, Alexander won't be as prepared to play NBA basketball as he might have been otherwise. That is unless the Rockets or Nets or Wizards select, who are teams who at least incorporate some of the concepts of that scheme into their play. What I did see of the play of Alexander is mixed bag of good things and bad in terms of how he will adapt to the NBA.

    On the one hand, Alexander does well coming off downscreens and getting to a spot to meet the pass. On the other, he doesnt read the screen well, he only got to the spot in college because he is so fast doing it, and covers so much ground with his huge steps. He is reasonable as a cutter, although his technique is only ok.

    With the ball, Alexander isnt nearly as quick and athletic as he is without it. His body often moves faster than his dribble does, so he ends being slightly off balance all the time when trying to drive. He can pull up and shoot over almost anyone, but because his balance isnt that good, he has to float just a bit in mid air, and therefore he shoots the most impressive missed shots you'll see. However, missed shots don't count, so how high he was while shooting them really don't help much. His best move is a one or two dribble drive, then cross over and step back into a jumper. He looks like an NBA player shooting this shot, except he just doesn't make it enough in game situations.

    His best attribute as an offensive player I think is that he takes huge steps. He cover so much ground, he often looks like he is traveling although he isn't. What he needs to do is get better balance, so he can take those steps lower to the ground, and be in better control of his body. He isn't smooth at all, he is kind of herky jerky when trying to get into a jump shot. No question in my mind, he will be able to get his own shot off at the NBA level. The question will be, do you want him to?

    His other big attribute I like from his offensive game is his willingness to screen. There are times on film when setting those blind backscreens the Princeton offense asks you to do that he just really pops people. I love that! A willingness, even an enthusiasm, to screen is a great thing to watch as a coach. However, many of his screen attempts are wasted because his technique is bad, particularly because he gets really bad angles on down screens. He hits guys physically, but because he doesnt "square up" a screen he lets the defender he is trying to block off slide through too easily. The desire is there, but not the technique, too often for my taste.

    At this point, I didnt see much of a post game from Alexander. Partly because they run an open post most of the time, Huggins really never did just post up Alexander on the block and throw him the ball. I have to assume that is because he has no post game to speak of yet, and it remains to be seen if he ever will develop one. Drafting on Thursday, you have to assume that you can teach him some elementary moves as his career moves along, but it isnt a sure thing.

    Alexander can sky for rebounds, and occasionally he will come up with one that is spectacular. But more often than not he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, which tells me he might not be reading the ball well as it is in the air. Huggins is like I am as far as emphasizing attacking the ball more than "blocking out", so his lack of boards isn't from being told to blockout 20 feet from the bucket, unnecessarily taking himself out of the play. Offensively because that offense emphasizes spreading the floor, keeping the paint open, and getting back on defense, it is possible his offensive rebounding numbers could go way up playing a different style. I would suspect that they will in fact.

    The other things you notice about Alexander are his toughness, his consistent motor and effort, and his enthusiasm for playing. I bet Coach Huggins really liked this kid and hates to see him go. He could take a verbal lashing from Huggins and still keep playing, he didnt fold up or shrink. He always was asked to take big shots, and was the "go to" guy for the Mountaineers, and he seemed to like the responsibility. He didnt always come through of course, but he didnt shrink from the moment. He seemed to play hard consistently in short or long stretches, and he seemed to be able to concentrate well, a hidden skill that is important. He really seems to enjoy playing the game, and being part of a team. I bet he ends up being a really great teammate.

    So, what do you have in Alexander?

    In the end of the day, I think you have an average player who will work extremely hard to be as good as he can be, and will be able to help a team on those long February road trips when nobody else feels like playing hard. He will win you some games off the bench on back to backs by simply outworking guys who are actually better than he is. He will probably be good for the coaches in practices, and will be a nice piece for someone off the bench. He strikes me as a limited player though, as he doesnt have the size to play the 4 or the lateral quickness, ballhandling, or decision making skills to play the 2. He looks like a backup small forward to me over time, with a chance to start only in the right circumstances.

    He does have upside, because he has the work ethic AND natural size/athleticism for the game....many players only have one or the other. His flaws though are many, and they are somewhat difficult to fix. He has no post game, no go to move, is a questionable shooter, and will have defensive issues. That is a lot of flaws for kid being picked perhaps in the top 8. If you select him, you are counting on a player really improving a bunch of his fundamentals one he enters the league, and not that many players ever have improved as much as Alexander will have to to be a legitimate starter on a good to great team.

    One last concern about Alexander is his reliance on being so athletic. His fundamentals are poor in many cases, so if he was to lose a step or get injured (it is easy for me to imagine him jumping high for a 18 footer and coming down on someone's foot), he might be in deep trouble. If he loses his freakish hops, I'm not sure you have enough there fundamentally at his core to count on, no matter how great a kid or how hard a worker he might be.

    I think in current day thinking, I'd compare him to a somewhat better version of Austin Croshere. I saw Matt Harpring as a comparable too, which I think is close but he is more athletic than those two players. It is a tough job comparing Alexander to someone playing today.

    Thinking of a comparable in the past was too hard for me as well. Tom Gugliotta is close, but I don't think Alexander is quite as good as he was, although thats the best I could come up with.

    Because of his nature and intangibles, I think Alexander is a relatively safe pick for someone, but as high as he may go makes me wonder again about the true strength of this draft. I don't think he projects as a quality starter on a good team, and it seems to me a team picking that high should at least get someone who could start for them eventually. It also important to note that his position of small forward is the easiest position to fill in basketball.

    I hope the Bucks take him at 8 as is rumored. I like the kid, but if available at #11 I think the Pacers should and would pass.

    As always, the above is just my opinion.

    Tbird

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    OUCH!!!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    something you didn't take into account is alexander's value to the west virginia team. there's a reason west virginia had the late season run they had last year, nearly knocking off xavier to make the elite 8. you can't just discount such leadership when evaluating a prospect, especially when that player was averaging 24ppg 8rpg during that span. i often question how much of these players you actually watch.
    Last edited by croz24; 06-20-2008 at 12:59 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    I like his motor and the Marine factor in that I think he can be all that he can be. I always want them to get guys who will reach their potential. I think Joe will and that is high and all you can ask.

    This draft is littered with busts to me. Guys who are young and will get some money and stop caring that much. Joe doesn't seem to be that guy at all.

    Nice work T Bird, I really really appreciate your breakdowns. I print them out and read them pretty thoroughly. Thank you.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by croz24 View Post
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    i often question how much of these players you actually watch.
    Or you could just say you disagree.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Alexander just doesn't sound like a need for the Pacers. Like so many people have already said, Granger is going nowhere but here.
    "I've got an idea--an idea so smart that my head would explode if I even began to know what I'm talking about." - Peter Griffin

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by croz24 View Post
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    i often question how much of these players you actually watch.

    I'm not sure why you are so mad about somebody's opinion of a player you covet. He provided insight about a player he did research on, so that we could read and learn a little more about him.
    "I've got an idea--an idea so smart that my head would explode if I even began to know what I'm talking about." - Peter Griffin

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by croz24 View Post
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    something you didn't take into account is alexander's value to the west virginia team. there's a reason west virginia had the late season run they had last year, nearly knocking off xavier to make the elite 8. you can't just discount such leadership when evaluating a prospect, especially when that player was averaging 24ppg 8rpg during that span. i often question how much of these players you actually watch.
    I actually think pretty highly of Alexander and his high character traits, but "leadership" I usually find as a scout is much much easier to see in person than on film. In person, you can see how he interacts with teammates during timeouts, coming off the floor, or in free throw situations when the camera isn't on him, and you can see how he interacts with the coaching staff when he isn't playing. That is hard to do on film.

    To analyze Alexander, I watched him play numerous times live while watching Big East regular season games, and I rewatched 4 games on tape/dvd from the Big East end of regular season, the Big East tournament, and the NCAA tournament.

    I usually only read about workouts or others opinions about him after Ive already sketched out my own thoughts. The I will compare what I see to what someone else better informed saw. If there is a huge difference, I'll go back and re-watch what I saw again to make sure my initial thoughts are accurate.

    Most of the time, regardless of what other scouts think or say, I usually write what my own initial impressions tell me. I usually tend to trust my own analysis, for better or worse. I'm not always right about every player or situation of course, which is why I am always careful to state that these are my own opinions, and easily could be mistaken.

    Overall, I thought I was giving Alexander a pretty positive review, although people who I trust who are reading it think I'm down on him. I'm not at all, I think he will have a long career in the league as a key sub and "glue guy", and a guy you can win with in that role. he wont be a superstar I dont think, and he wont even start unless it is in a perfect situation, but he will be a guy that will represent your franchise with honor, who will play hard, be a great teammate, and be a help to winning.

    I just don't see him as a star or even a near all star, not even close.

    Is a player like I described worth a high pick in the mid to late lottery? Other teams and people will have to decide that.

    I do like hearing the debate though. My own family is giving me grief over the analysis I did of Eric Gordon and Mario Chalmers and DJ Augustin, for example.

    We won't know who is right or wrong for about 3 years probably, but the doubt and different opinions are what make the draft excitement for a hoops junkie like myself.

  9. #9
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Tbird, do you see him being better than Shawne Williams?
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem View Post
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    Tbird, do you see him being better than Shawne Williams?

    Wow....that's a good one!

    I think that at this point it is anyone's guess. Alexander strikes me as not quite as smooth, but with better work ethic. I like Williams shooting form a lot better, but I like Alexanders "intangibles."

    It close enough that I'd probably just keep Williams if I already had Williams, and I'd probably just keep Alexander if I already had him.

    Alexander is likely a better teammate, so maybe I'd lean toward him if I was forced to pick, but overall I think they are roughly about the same talent level.

    I'll think about this question and maybe have some other thoughts later.

    What does everyone else think?

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    Tyrant maragin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Alexander was my favorite player to watch in the NCAA tourney, but I'm a sucker for hustle and effort. I don't think he's a good fit for the Pacers, since "we got 3's". I do look forward to seeing who he ends up with.

    Tbird, what coach in the league do you think could get the most out of him?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    i don't always question t-bird's analysis, but i think it's a fair question to wonder how much live action/game tape t-bird watches in order to provide such an analysis. some people merely read the draft profile on a player from various websites, and then combine them all to form one "opinion". not saying that's what t-bird is doing, but it's fair to ask imo. i do find his analysis to be a little overly critical in many regards on joe alexander. anybody can nitpick a player to death.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    Wow....that's a good one!

    I think that at this point it is anyone's guess. Alexander strikes me as not quite as smooth, but with better work ethic. I like Williams shooting form a lot better, but I like Alexanders "intangibles."

    It close enough that I'd probably just keep Williams if I already had Williams, and I'd probably just keep Alexander if I already had him.

    Alexander is likely a better teammate, so maybe I'd lean toward him if I was forced to pick, but overall I think they are roughly about the same talent level.

    I'll think about this question and maybe have some other thoughts later.

    What does everyone else think?


    That's interesting! If you had Williams you'd keep Williams! Alexander hasn't even played an NBA game yet, and Williams has 2 years pro experience. That says to me someone didn't use their 2 years pro experience to the fullest advantage, Alexander is the better player, or both.

    I can take or leave Williams, but if the opportunity presented itself to have Alexander or Williams there would be very quick decision. I'd take Joe Alexander in a heartbeat.
    Last edited by Justin Tyme; 06-20-2008 at 04:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    What bothers me about Shawne is his lack of drive. He looks to be the same player
    as when he was drafted 2 years ago plus he has difficulty making good decisions
    outside of basketball. Alexander seems the obvious choice.
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    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    i believe he is spot on. Alexander has limited lateral quickness when he is faced to the basket and moves either direction. Most of the time he counts on his hops to compensate for his offensive weaknesses. This assessment helps confirm that he is not right for this team.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    how else can he compensate for the fact that he played only 2 years of high school, was buried on the bench at wvu for 2 years, and then get thrown out to the wolves his junior year under huggins (which he responded to quite well)? alexander has really only seen ONE YEAR of solid game action. of course he is going to have weaknesses playing so little, but what some aren't factoring into the equation, is just how quickly he has developed over that time. just look at this past year. joe at the end of the year was twice the player as beginning of the year joe.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Tbird draft analysis: Joe Alexander

    Quote Originally Posted by intridcold View Post
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    i believe he is spot on. Alexander has limited lateral quickness when he is faced to the basket and moves either direction. Most of the time he counts on his hops to compensate for his offensive weaknesses. This assessment helps confirm that he is not right for this team.

    I'm not disagreeing with T-Bird's personal assessment of Alexander, as he says "it's his personal view", just T-Bird's view of him of keeping Williams over Alexander. I just can't buy into that view.

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