Last night, the Jazz got one of their best wins of the season. Even though the Bulls are playing some of their worst basketball of the season (3-7 in their last 10), they are still a top five team in the East and currently stand with 41 wins. The Jazz have struggled all year long closing out good teams, so it was great to see a strong finish in last night’s game.
Another thing that make last night’s win really fun to watch, was the welcome-to-Utah game from Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Since the trade deadline, we’ve wondered what his value to the Jazz really was. Last night showed us a glimpse of what it could be. NAW busted onto the scene last night, having his best game by far as a Jazz man. He scored 16 points on 50% shooting, including 3-5 from deep, along with 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Alexander-Walker was huge in the fourth quarter, and was a big reason for the Jazz’s late-game surge with 14 points in the fourth.
Alexander-Walker’s 14-point fourth quarter was a great sign for Jazz fans. In this quarter, NAW showcased everything that he can bring to the table for the Jazz. Three-point shooting, defense, steals, finishing at the rim, being a momentum-changer, etc. The thing that many Jazz fans might not understand about Alexander-Walker, is he can be an absolute bucket-getter. In my own ignorance, I did not realize that with the Pelicans before being traded he had already had scoring games of 33, 31, 27, 24, 23, and 21.
He started out the season scoring double-digits in 13 of 16 games as a starter for New Orleans. Although not very efficient, Alexander-Walker averaged double-figures for the Pelicans for the last three seasons. The man can get buckets. At age 23, he’s a young prospect for the Jazz, who have a roster definitely limited in terms of young talent.
Last night, Nickeil Alexander-Walker definitely made a difference. His +15 plus-minus was second-highest on the Jazz next to Jordan Clarkson, and his 14-point fourth quarter helped seal the game against a tough playoff team in the Chicago Bulls. On an offense-heavy Jazz team, where will NAW’s difference-making ability come in handy going forward? Last night it was a mix of offense and defense, which is exactly what the Jazz need from him. Most of his 14 fourth-quarter points came from spot-up threes, transition buckets and free-throws, which is a good mix. If he can come him and knock down open threes like he did last night, that will help the Jazz so much. If he can come in and use his length and defensive skillset to slow down guys on the perimeter and help the Jazz get stops, that’s HUGE. And that’s exactly what he did last night, so major props to him. It’ll be interesting to see where Quin finds time for him in the lineup, especially once Bojan Bogdanovic and Danuel House are back healthy and the Jazz get their normal rotation returning to action. This is the time that Alexander-Walker can prove his worth and maybe earn some brownie points to get some additional playing time heading into the playoffs.