Joe Alexander was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks three years ago as a lottery pick out of West Virginia. Many said he left too early, that his game wasn't mature enough to succeed at the next level, and that the hype caused by a great NCAA tournament run exceeded his actual talent and skill-set.
Perhaps, to a point, Alexander's naysayers were correct.
However, in his defense, Alexander never really had much of a chance to prove himself. Despite his obvious defensive issues, Alexander was still only granted just over 12 minutes per game as a rookie. His rookie season was forgettable, short of nearly getting into the 2008-09 NBA Slam Dunk competition, as he averaged under five points and two rebounds per game.
Despite his inability to stay out of foul trouble, Alexander still flashed the ability that could someday live up to being the 8th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. In fact, of the 12 measly games he was allowed to take the court for more than 20 minutes in his rookie season, Alexander found his way to over 10 points four times, while still scoring at least eight points in five of the other eight contests.
In his sophomore season, Alexander enjoyed a solid NBA Summer League, and was looked at as an integral part of Milwaukee's future for the 2009-10 season, and potentially beyond. However, a nagging leg injury kept him from starting the season with the rest of his team in Milwaukee, and eventually the Bucks cut their losses and traded him to the Chicago Bulls after deciding not to pick up his option.
Does Alexander have the skills to succeed in the NBA?
In Chicago Alexander received even less playing time, and entered the 2010-11 offseason without a home, latching on with the New Orleans Hornets over the summer, struggling just to stick to the final roster.
Three years removed from being regarded as one of the most athletic and hyped offensive college basketball players, Joe Alexander is working his way back up to respectability in the NBADL.
While some players fall to the depths of the NBA Developmental League and never recover, Alexander has taken it all in stride, and more importantly, proven his doubters wrong. True, it's "just the developmental league," but Alexander's progress as a scorer, rebounder, and overall well-rounded player can't be ignored.
In six games with the Texas Legends, Alexander has averaged an impressive double-double with 15.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Alexander has even improved his play-making skills, as he's dished out 3.5 assists over that six-game span, and has even average a block per game since joining the D-League.
At 6'8'', Alexander carries solid strength on a slender frame, while possessing a silky shot with both an inside and outside game. He also brings excellent athleticism and explosiveness to the forward position, while having the ability to work inside or take forwards off the dribble with his solid ball-handling ability.
The former Mountaineer has continued to battle defensive issues and foul trouble, but in extensive court action has played a huge role in helping the Legends to a 5-1 record while he's been with the team.
While excelling in the NBADL doesn't mean you necessarily have what it takes to dominate or even carve out a consistent role at the highest level, it at least means you should get a serious look for quality play against NBA-type competition. And if there's ever been a candidate to get a real, hard look from an NBA team in need of an offensive burst with true potential, it's Joe Alexander.