Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Cliff Alexander

Cliff Alexander
6'9, 255
Kansas, Fr.
Big Board Rank: 26

Seen as a top freshman and likely lottery pick entering the 2014-15 season, Cliff Alexander's stock has taken arguably the biggest tumble of any prospect in the 2015 draft class.  His difficulties began when he struggled to earn minutes and respect from Kansas head coach Bill Self, and reached an apex when Alexander was suspended by the team due to an NCAA investigation into his eligibility.  Despite Alexander's tough year, there's still reason to believe he can be a high-level contributor in the NBA.

Despite only playing 17.6 minutes per contest, Alexander was relatively productive as a freshman.  He was a fairly low-usage player, at a Usage Rate of 20.1% for the season.  Advanced statistics and per-40 averages are much kinder to Alexander than the raw per-game averages.


Alexander's best offensive trait is his ability to get to the free throw line, although his offensive rebounding is also valuable.  Had Alexander played enough minutes to qualify for rate statistic leaderboards, he would have finished 4th in the Big 12 in both Offensive and Defensive Rebounding Percentage.  Although he is a strong presence on the glass, Alexander's best defensive trait in his lone season at Kansas was his shot blocking ability.  Alexander blocked 4.5 shots per-100 possessions, and his 7.7 Block Percentage would have ranked 3rd in the Big 12 had he played enough minutes to qualify.


Alexander is a fantastic athlete with long arms (7'3 wingspan), which should help him finish around the rim at the NBA level.  Physically, he is prepared for the NBA game and should not have to add any weight to his frame.  Alexander's explosive athleticism couples well with an excellent motor to make him a terror running the floor in transition.  Alexander's ability to protect the rim may or may not translate, but it's hard not to like how productive of a shot blocker he was in limited minutes.


Alexander doesn't have the necessary offensive polish to be a productive scorer.  It appears that he will likely be limited to scoring on dunks and second chance baskets.  Jonathan Givony of Draft Express points out that Alexander's game is better suited for the C position, although his size suggests he needs to be at PF.  His lack of playing time and apparent lack of trust from coach Bill Self are troubling.


Although Alexander's lane-clogging style would not fit well with the Pistons young core, the second round is often about finding talent.  For example, if the Pistons were to pick Frank Kaminsky in the first round, and they chose to use him like Greg Monroe, as the starting PF and backup C, Alexander would be fine playing PF next to Kaminsky on the second unit.  On the surface, Alexander doesn't appear to be a fit, but there are ways to make him work on the Pistons roster.

Mock Draft (Date)
Alexander’s Position
Detroit’s Pick
Draft Express (3/30)
31st - Houston
38th – Tyrone Wallace (3/26)
34th – LA Lakers
38th – Terran Petteway
CBS Sports – Vecenie (2/27)
26th - Portland
40th – Ron Baker
Basketball Insiders - Koutroupis (3/1)
29th – Brooklyn
38th – Damian Jones

Alexander is truly a first round talent, thanks to his athleticism, but an underwhelming, frustrating season at Kansas may have him available late in the first round and possibly into the second.  Once you get into the range that the Pistons will likely be selecting, it's hard to turn down a player of Alexander's caliber, regardless of fit.  There wasn't really a good reason for Self to limit Alexander's minutes like he did, which makes me think he won't last into the 2nd round.  If he does happen to fall that far, Stan Van Gundy should be very interested.

1 comment:

  1. If you watched Alexander play at Kansas, you probably would understand his limited playing under Bill Self. He certainly has talent, however he often looked lost and continually made big mental mistakes during games. He is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
    His mistakes would often throw the whole KU offense out of whack, which is why he didn't play more. You have to be able to play at both ends of the floor, and he simply did not do a good job of that. He could score inside at times, but seemed lost in the KU offense. Self wasn't taking him out of games because he didn't like him, but because he wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing It is a team sport, and that was a huge problem for KU this season. Rarely did they play like a team. For Cliff's sake, I hope he is able to make the move to the NBA and adapt and do well. The NBA has a habit of drafting on athleticism and potential in some cases and it rarely works out.