One of the top call-up candidates in the NBADL at this juncture, former top-10 draft selection Joe Alexander is off to a strong start in his first campaign with the Texas Legends. Struggling to make a transition to the small forward position on the NBA level, Alexander has added a significant amount of weight to his upper body and has been converted back to the power forward spot, a position he's clearly far better suited for skill-wise. He scored effectively from the four spot during the two games he played at the 2011 Showcase, even if he showed some limitations as well.
Still the same tremendously gifted run-jump athlete we saw in workouts years ago, Alexander has an outstanding frame, but still isn't a very fluid player. He is very rigid in his movements and has difficulties getting down in a low stance, something that was a major issue when trying to play on the perimeter full time, particularly on the defensive end.
Over the course of the week here, and looking back at Alexander's body of work this season, it is clear that Alexander has found a comfort level offensively from the mid-post and left baseline. Setting up shop 10 to 12 feet away from the rim, when Alexander gets the ball he looks to either face up and take a quick jump shot if he's on the right block or settle for a turnaround jumper on the left side of the floor. Very rarely putting the ball on the floor with his back to the basket, Alexander has little trouble elevating over defenders to get his shot off, but needs to become more consistent if he's going to rely solely on those two moves to score.
When Alexander received the ball out on the perimeter and put it on the deck, the results were usually positive, which has been the case for most of the season. He's prone to forcing some drives and passes through contact, but his quick first step allows him to get to the basket, draw additional defenders, and create some easy scoring opportunities for himself and others. An efficient finisher, Alexander's mechanical shooting form has rendered him a less than efficient catch and shoot player, making his tendency to settle from the midrange a bit of a concern.
Defensively, Alexander was something of a mixed bag. He was slow to get back on defense on a number of occasions and didn't seem as dialed in as he usually is, but tallied 8 blocks in the two games we took in at the showcase and completely locked down the Dar Tucker one-on-one late in Texas's first game on one memorable occasion. Doing a nice job making his presence felt stepping in from the weak side and getting his hand on the ball, Alexander is a solid defender at this level, even when he isn't giving an Othyus Jeffers-type effort. A bit stuck in between positions defensively on the NBA level, it will be important for Alexander to hone his game on this end of the floor. The fact that he's leading the league in rebounding has to be viewed as a huge plus, though.
On the whole, Alexander's time with the Texas Legends has been a positive one. Lacking experience playing at a high level due to his late start in basketball and struggles in the NBA, Alexander has benefitted from seeing extended playing time at his natural position, something he's sorely lacked over the last few years. He still needs to continue polishing his offensive repertoire to maximize his efficiency, but the fact that he's averaging 20 and 10 and has as much upside as any player in the NBADL makes him a call up candidate and his situation one worth keeping an eye on.