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Nickeil Alexander-Walker finishes second NBA season on a strong note

The former Hokie was a first-round pick in 2019.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

When Nickeil Alexander-Walker left Virginia Tech after two seasons and entered the 2019 NBA draft, many thought it might take a couple of years for the talented guard to make an impact in the NBA.

Unfortunately for Alexander-Walker, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and his rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans was a strange one. He would end up playing in a total of 47 games as a rookie — making one start — and averaged 5.7 points per game and an average of around 13 minutes per contest.

The first half of the 2020-21 season was an improvement for Alexander-Walker as he averaged 17.7 minutes and 8.2 points per game before the All-Star break.

However, it was after the All-Star break where Alexander-Walker began to take his game to another level.

In 18 games after the break, Alexander-Walker averaged 28.5 minutes per game and 15.4 points per game. He would end the 2020-21 season with 13 starts and averaged 11 points per game.

Sadly for Alexander-Walker, he didn’t get to play the entire second half of the season as an injured ankle forced him to miss 18 games in April and May.

His ascent in the second half of the season bodes well for Alexander-Walker’s NBA future — specifically with the Pelicans. New Orleans has its star in Zion Williamson, and the former Hokie showed this season he has the potential to be a pretty good sidekick. In a January game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Alexander-Walker exploded for 37 points.

If Alexander-Walker can stay healthy, he could be on the verge of a true breakthrough in year three of his NBA career.