The One Player that will Thrive with Zion’s Injury

With Zion out for 6 to 8 weeks, it puts a damper on life for New Orleans. I mean, what we saw with Zion in the preseason was truly unprecedented. Therefore, I pose this question.

Who is going to step up in the midst of Zion’s injury?

And to me, from what I saw in the preseason, I can confidently say that this one player can step up in New Orleans and dominate. Maybe he won’t score as many points as Zion would have, but he might be able to save New Orleans’ season in order to keep playoff hopes alive. That player is:

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

NAW has been superb for the Pelicans in the preseason and also in the Summer League. With Zion being injured, can NAW step up and can he play a large role in the offense? Maybe we go even further, can NAW actually start a campaign for Rookie of the Year?

Recently he was a stand out for the Pelicans. In their win over the Knicks, he scored 17 points in just 19 minutes. This included shooting 7 for 11 from the field and 3 for 4 from beyond the arc.

With this in mind, there is, of course, the question of how he would fit into the team. Right now there are many guards such as Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, and Lonzo Ball ahead of him in the pecking order. Despite this, we saw against the Knicks Gentry starting three guards, in true Small Ball fashion. While Holiday and Ball will probably start every game for the Pels, we don’t know about Redick. With Alexander-Walker shooting so well, can he outperform Redick both on offense and defense? In my opinion, yes he can. Not only that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Redick is used as trade bait for the Pelicans, especially with how well NAW has been shooting.

Originally the Pelicans signed JJ Redick to a 2-year deal. In theory, this would allow Nickeil Alexander-Walker to grow in the Pelicans system until Redick’s contract expires. Once he began to flourish into a star, Redick’s contract would expire.

However, this is not the case. From what we have seen, Alexander-Walker is way more NBA ready then what we expected.

This can be proved in the preseason win against the Bulls. Not only did we see a stat line of 13 points and 7 assists, but we saw his ability to close games. If the game is close and the Pelicans need a clutch player, Alexander-Walker might just be their guy. He was one of the main factors in why the Pelicans went 5-0 in the preseason.

If we see the Pelicans winning games this season without their superstar rookie Zion Williamson, the main reason why could be because Alexander-Walker is surprising the world. I would not be in shock if Alexander-Walker was in the talks for Rookie of the Year, because of his IQs and consistent shooting at such a young age.

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