Buzz started to build around the Canadian guard during the second half of the season once he took control of Kentucky's offense. Tall, long and crafty, Gilgeous-Alexander began making evaluators overlook his relatively average speed and athleticism.
Weight: 180 pounds
Wingspan: 6'11 ½"
Pro-player comparison: Elfrid Payton/Shaun Livingston
Gilgeous-Alexander compensates for limited burst with excellent size and length. He keeps his dribble low and he does a nice job of changing speed and direction. He operated mostly off ball screens, with pick-and-roll ball-handling accounting for 38.9 percent of his offense. On those possessions, he ranked in the 86th percentile, showing patience and passing vision. He plays with balance on the move and has a capable runner (26-of-69) and a threatening pull-up (40.8 percent) in his bag. Despite lacking explosiveness, Gilgeous-Alexander fared better at the rim than the other top point guards, using his long arms, body and control to finish at a 57.4 percent clip around the basket.
Gilgeous-Alexander doesn't blow by defenses. He ranked in the 35th percentile in transition, and he converted fewer than 37.0 percent of his righty and lefty drives out of isolation. Gilgeous-Alexander also wasn't a convincing shooter, even if his percentages were promising. He shot 40.4 percent from behind the arc, but he only made 23 threes in 37 games averaging 33.7 minutes. Gilgeous-Alexander gets little elevation on his shot and may have trouble extending his range. His 2.7 turnovers per game reflect occasional carelessness.
He averaged 1.6 steals, using his length, quick hands and basketball IQ to make plays on the ball. He'll be valued for his defensive playmaking and the versatility to guard both backcourt positions. On the other hand, he did have trouble at times defending in space and was vulnerable to getting bullied. His frame is super-thin for a player his size. He ranked in the 84th percentile as a pick-and-roll defender but only in the 40th in isolation.
Gilgeous-Alexander can't be counted on for offensive firepower as a rookie. Just like he needed time in college, it could take his whole rookie season to adjust to a faster NBA, particularly if he can't consistently make outside shots. He'll come off the bench, handle the ball, pass and take what the defense gives him, but Gilgeous-Alexander shouldn't be projected to finish on either of the All-Rookie Teams.
Projected role: Low-end starter
Without the speed, athleticism or reliable three-ball, Gilgeous-Alexander projects as more of a role player than a star. He could start one day if given enough support, but low-end starter, like Payton, is his likeliest ceiling. Gilgeous-Alexander checks boxes for a guard—he just doesn't own any.