Zion Williamson wasn't the only rookie on the New Orleans Pelicans to impress in the team's preseason win over the Utah Jazz on Friday.
The No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the second-highest scorer on the Pelicans with 22 points off the bench. He got to that number on 7-for-9 shooting from the field - including 4-for-5 from the 3-point line - in only 16 minutes of play.
Alexander-Walker did the bulk of his damage in the fourth quarter, leading the Pelicans to a comeback win with a 13-point period.
22 PTS | 4 AST@TheReal_NAW1 scored 13 PTS in the 4th Q in the @PelicansNBA home opener win! #NBAPreseason pic.twitter.com/s78FLoyKqi- NBA Draft (@NBADraft) October 12, 2019
After the game, Williamson had nothing but good things to say about his fellow rookie, calling him a "bucket."
"Nickeil is a bucket, let's just put that on the record," Williamson said. "Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a bucket … He facilitates the game very well and I feel like he always makes the right play and he puts the team before himself, and I respect that."
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was complimentary of the Toronto native as well, pointing to his confidence.
"He's a really confident player," Gentry told reporters. "Confident borderline cockiness. I think you almost have to have that in this league to survive, especially as a 19-year-old kid. Doesn't play like a 19-year-old, has a good grasp of what we want to do, and not afraid of the big moments like I said the other night. I thought his defense was good also. Good all-around player. I think he'll continue to get better."
As for Alexander-Walker, he credited his teammates for giving him the confidence he needed to do what he did.
"Just kind of going with the flow. The course of the game and kind of get the feel and just playing with confidence. All of my teammates, if it wasn't for them giving me so much confidence I probably wouldn't have made half the plays I made. They are behind me 100 percent and I appreciate that from them. The vets, they were kind of giving me "free game" in a sense and I'm just trying to implement it."
Alexander-Walker is now averaging 15.7 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 16.8 minutes through three preseason games.