The Trail Blazers offseason is upon us, and the 2018 NBA Draft will provide Portland with an opportunity to supplement its roster with a talented youngster. With only the No. 24 pick at their disposal on draft night, the Blazers will look to beat the odds by finding an NBA-worthy prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today’s profile will focus on explosive Arizona shooting guard Rawle Alkins.
- Height: 6’5”
- Weight: 217
- Wingspan: 6’9”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: SG
- Age: 20
- Projected draft range: 29-53
- PPG: 13.1 | Per 40: 16.7
- APG: 2.5 | Per 40: 3.2
- RPG: 4.8 | Per 40: 6.1
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.6
- FG%: 43.2
- 3P%: 35.9
- FT%: 72.4
Armed with a NBA-ready body, Alkins uses it to his advantage on both ends of the court. By employing every ounce of his 220-pound frame, the 20-year-old guard is proficient at creating space for his shot inside the arc. When facing smaller defenders in college, it wasn’t uncommon for Alkins to bully himself into favorable looks underneath the basket. To complement his overall strength, the former Wildcat is armed with an explosive shot-creating first step. If opponents pursue him too hastily on the perimeter, Alkins is capable of making them pay by putting the ball on the floor. If granted a free pass to the rim, he is only a few steps away from finishing a highlight-worthy dunk.
Many of the same tools that strengthen his offense also work to Alkins’ advantage on the defensive end. The sturdy shooting guard is rarely out-muscled, and his favorable wingspan allows him to guard multiple positions.
The most concerning parts of Alkins’ game aren’t connected to physical makeup, as he left several parts of his game un-polished after a short two-year stint at Arizona. On offense, the 20-year-old guard had a noticeable regression in turnovers. Alkins habitually dribbled himself into trouble and left his feet before identifying an open teammate. As a result, he averaged more turnovers per game (2.6) than assists (2.5). Alkins also struggled to shoot from beyond the arc. He failed to craft a reliable floater to complement his arsenal inside the paint. Defensively, Alkins struggles with staying on his assignment when his opponent made several moves without the ball. It wasn’t uncommon for him to be caught out of position when facing teams that utilized intricate offenses.
Due to a pre-season fracture in his right foot, Alkins was sidelined for the first nine games of Arizona’s season. He later missed three games in late January tied to soreness in the same right foot. The result wasn’t ideal, as he struggled to make major strides in his second year. Despite his extended absence, the Wildcats finished first in the Pac-12 with a 27-8 overall record. Alkins did find his groove late in the season, and had double-digit scoring outings in five of the final seven games. Arizona’s NCAA Tournament run came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Buffalo Bulls in the opening round.
With a toolbox filled with stellar physical traits, Alkins’ NBA potential in undeniable. But his draft stock will be weighed down by his less-than-stellar three-point shooting ability. If he is going to be considered a true two-way player, he will have to dial in his shot from beyond the arc. The damage inflicted by his shooting woes is mitigated by his defensive potential. Due to his frame, it is easy to image Alkins playing in a defense that freely switches off screens. His injury history will chase off some potential suitors, but Alkins’ heavy workload at the tail-end of the year should curb those doubts. After a tough year in Tucson, Alkins should thrive with a change of scenery. The faults in his game are coachable, but he will have to prove that to teams in the pre-draft process.
The Blazers’ current backcourt often comes under fire for a lack of size, and a prospect of Alkins’ stature would immediately help with those concerns. Outside of simply adding size, the former Wildcat would provide Portland with a physical defender with a favorable ceiling in other areas. Lack of shooting would hinder his court time immediately, but his explosiveness could provide a spark off the bench.
Injury concerns and shooting inconsistency will likely push Alkins into the second round, but he would only be an impressive workout away from piquing Portland’s interest. If the Blazers can find a way into the early stages of the second round, Alkins would be an attractive project for the future.
Do you want to see Alkins in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? What prospect would you like to see us highlight next? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com