Cliff Alexander is a name most casual NBA fans would know. He was once projected to be the second pick of the draft. He was a 2014 McDonald’s All-American, 2014 Naismith Prep Player of the Year and 2014 Jordan Brand Classic Co-MVP. Alexander didn’t play organized basketball until eighth grade because the courts were too dangerous in his area, he made his high school’s varsity squad the next year. He was the No. 1 ranked power forward in the nation.
The Chicago native was up there with Jahlil Okafor as one of the highest touted recruits in college basketball. He ended up choosing Kansas, where he battled with NCAA sanctions and decided to go ahead and declare for the draft. Many scouts saw him going from the late-first to the mid-second, but Alexander’s name was never called. A far cry from being projected as the second pick just a year ago.
Alexander then signed with the Brooklyn Nets summer league team, as the Nets frontcourt depth was minimal and he had a very real shot at making the team. However, after re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, drafting Chris McCullough and signing Thomas Robinson, Willie Reed and Andrea Bargnani, Alexander’s shot at making the team is minimal.
The Nets must sign Alexander to a multi-year deal, so they don’t miss out if he blossoms and fills his potential.
Alexander has appeared in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues and hasn’t looked all that impressive. His final averages for Orlando were 6.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and .8 blocks per game while shooting 39% from the field. Less than impressive.
“I’m going to show people, I just have to redeem myself. I’ve been here before. I’ve started from the bottom before. I’ve been the underdog before. I know what it takes to get back on top.”
Alexander and Willie Reed have looked like a formidable partnership in the Las Vegas Summer League, and he has started to show some potential. So much so, that other teams are taking notice, and the Nets must act quickly if they plan to sign the former high school standout.
But the fact of the matter is, Alexander needs the Nets, and the Nets need Alexander. Yes the Nets are deep in the frontcourt, but their frontcourt is riddle with injury/injury-prone players.
Power Forward: Thaddeus Young, Chris McCullough, Andrea Bargnani
Center: Brook Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Willie Reed
Lopez and Bargnani have both suffered major injuries before and missed extended time. McCullough is coming off of a torn ACL and Robinson recently suffered a minor meniscus tear. With these type of injury worries, extra depth doesn’t hurt.
Signing Alexander to a multi-year deal, with nothing guaranteed after the first year could be a smart move. Alexander would not be pricey, and provides upside not seen in many other NBA prospects.
While they do not have their own affiliate, the Nets could send Alexander down to the D-League to develop and could call him up if the injury bug strikes.
Bottom line is, Alexander’s upside is worth a roster spot and if the Nets don’t pick him up someone else will. There are no guarantees he pans out, but it’s worth the risk.