Earlier, I did an ATS Summer League Microscope on this year's 8th pick in the draft Jordan Hill. The next game it was last year's 8th pick Joe Alexander who got the close up.
Joe Alexander came out of West Virginia last year as a workout wonder. You don't have to look at him very long to see why. He's BIG. 6' 8", 230 pounds. He's not a tweener power forward masquerading as a small forward. He's a legitimate small forward. He has tremendous leaping ability as well that allows him to elevate above his man to get off relatively uncontested shots. In short, he's physical beast and not just at the NBA Summer League. In this particular game, he had 18 points in 7-16 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. I think I have seen him play 4 times now so I have more than just this one game to go on.
There are a lot of things to really like about Joe. He has a good first step that he has used pretty effectively all week. He really likes to go left, but he can go either way. When he goes, he goes by guys pretty quickly and because of his size and strength they can't bully him off his path.
Where he has been most devastating, yes I used devastating, is on the left block. Whether he starts there posting up, by driving past his man on the wing or baseline, or coming from the free throw line, once he gets to the block he has finished at a very high rate by elevating and making the shorter jumper. I think he has done a good job of not over penetrating and always trying to finish right at the rim.
All week long he has shown a pretty respectable shot selection -- though he did go 4-18 in the first game and forced some shots near the basket in that game. He only takes long jumpers if completely wide open and the only contested shots he takes are in the 8 foot range, but those are probably good shots for him since he can elevate over anybody to get them. Thus making them not so contested.
Defensively, he has also been pretty good. He has shown good awareness on his rotations, often tracking down different men after pick and roll plays. He has shown well in help situations and he is aware of both the ball and his man when playing on the weak side. He's also done a good job, as you would expect, with his post defense whenever somebody tries to take him into the blocks.
He has a very inconsistent jumper. As I said, the outside shots he has taken have been wide open and he hasn't hit a high percentage of these. He shoots with the ball flat in the depth of his palm instead of up on his fingers. I think it creates too much inconsistency in his stroke for him to be able to knock down shots on a regular basis.
He spends too much time head-faking. He gets the ball on the wing and head-fakes his man. It is kind of funny looking because he doesn't move anything else and he would do it 4-5 times. After the first game, I saw one of the Bucks coaches talking to another coach doing the head-fake thing with a face like "He keeps doing this and he shouldn't and I'm getting frustrated. He just needs to go." He seemed to not do it as much the rest of the week, but he would still do it once. I think it is so ingrained in what he does that it will take him a while to get rid of it.
When watching Joe Alexander, I can't help but think there is something missing. I have spent 2-3 days trying to figure it out. I've talked to several people about it and I think I may have figured it out. While he is a very good physical athlete, meaning he is big and strong and fast, I don't think he is a natural athlete. He looks very mechanical. My guess is that he doesn't have quick feet or quick hands. While watching him, I always feel like he doesn't quite lift his hands fast enough, or that he doesn't move his feet quite quick enough. It is this strange combination of instincts and quickness that basketball players -- or really any good player in any sport -- need in order to really play the game well.
For me, this is one of those things that you either have or you don't, and I don't think Joe has it. I don't know if I am right, and if I am, what that means for his ceiling. Either way, he'll put up some very respectable numbers this year provided he gets minutes.