Everything You Need To Know About Ty-Shon Alexander

Ty-Shon Alexander is one of the best defensive guards in this class. On top of that, his off-ball scoring makes him an intriguing combo guard in the late first round.

We've finally reached an age where combo guards are no longer thought of as difficult to play because they don't perfectly fit the traditional description of a position. We've also accepted that just because a guard spent a few years in college and has a perceived lower ceiling than others doesn't mean that he can't contribute to a rotation. In fact, the opposite tends to be accurate as we've seen multiple older guard prospects immediately contribute to a rotation. Ty-Shon Alexander may be the next combo guard to join this highly essential yet often overlooked group of guards.

At 6'4 195 pounds, Alexander played a myriad of roles during his time at Creighton. He had spells of initiating the offense followed by stretches of acting as an off-ball scorer. He frequently picked up the opposition's best perimeter player but had the instincts, work rate, and desire to switch when needed. Alexander has the skill set that could have made him a star at Creighton, but his unselfishness and desire to win saw him take on a less ball-dominant role to help contribute to winning basketball.

Alexander will likely be used mostly as an off-ball scorer in the NBA. He moves well without the ball, adept at finding the open pockets on the floor, and is exceptionally comfortable shooting off the catch. This season, Alexander scored 1.072 points per possession (PPP) when spotting up (84th percentile) and 1.137 PPP (77th percentile) when shooting off the catch, per Synergy.

Creighton's offensive philosophy of ball-movement and outside shooting helped foster Alexander's off-ball effectiveness. He rarely will run through a series of screens, but he creates space by relocating and finding unoccupied areas of the floor to slide to. As we can see below, Alexander stealthily creeps along the baseline to end up in the strongside corner. With perfect mechanics, a two-footed hop into a high, smooth release, Alexander knocks down the open three off the catch.

It is a subtle movement that Alexander makes, but it is vital to create space and engender ball movement.

After Alexander makes the entry pass, he slides to his left, behind his defender's turned back, towards the recently vacated corner. This movement gives Alexander space to shoot and his teammate an outlet pass as the zone defense converges on him. Again, Alexander uses his consistent mechanics to hop into his shot and knock down the jumper.

Alexander's spatial awareness and off-ball movement aren't limited to the perimeter, though, as he is also an adept cutter. Cutting has mostly vanished from the NBA game, but it is still an effective, and often critical, skill with the continuous spreading of offenses.

This season, Alexander scored 1.448 PPP (89th percentile) on cuts. It wasn't a frequent action of Alexander, only 29 possessions, but he is exceptionally skilled at setting up his defender. Alexander's outside shooting threat frequently leads to defenders overcommitting to him on the perimeter. This defense opens opportunities for Alexander to cut backdoor.

By faking the dribble handoff, Alexander gets his defender to overcommit. From here, Alexander promptly bolts back door for the easy layup before the weakside defense can recognize what is happening.

Alexander's shooting gravity once again creates an easy layup for him. A simple fake towards the ball is all Alexander needs to create an open lane to the rim.

While this will be a rarer occurrence in the NBA for Alexander than his spot-up opportunities, it is still a weapon. If Alexander ends up with a team that runs a five-out system, open lanes to the rim will be available for him to exploit.

Even though Alexander's off-ball work is essential and will be most of his offensive game, they aren't the sexy, eye-popping clips you hoped for, right? Unfortunately, there isn't much of that in Alexander's game, but he was an effective scorer with the ball in his hands.

When Alexander ran the pick-and-roll, he scored 0.903 PPP (84th percentile) and 0.925 PPP (78th percentile) when he shot off the dribble. Alexander likely won't do a ton of offensive initiation, but it is a role he can fill when needed.

Even though playmaking isn't a significant part of Alexander's game, Creighton did see many positive results when he passed out of the pick-and-roll as spot-up shooters scored 1.233 PPP (92nd percentile). The real threat of Alexander running the pick-and-roll, though, is his scoring ability.

As the screen comes, Alexander knows that their five-out system is leaving the rim unoccupied, meaning he only has to beat his initial defender. The screener quickly flips the screen, which causes great confusion among the defenders. Alexander's defender anticipates that his big man is playing drop coverage, so the primary defender goes towards the screen to funnel Alexander to the dropping big man. Instead, the screener's defender inexplicable goes to hard hedge despite Alexander showing zero interest in dribbling off the screen. Alexander exploits the defensive miscommunication by bursting past his defender for the easy layup.

This time, we see the defense play drop coverage, one of the most common pick-and-roll coverages in the NBA, and Alexander punishes them. Once Alexander dribbles off the screen, he sees that no one is stepping to him and that his defender is trying to fight through the screen with minimal effort. Not lacking confidence, Alexander hops into the open three.

As an on-ball scorer, there is plenty to be encouraged by in Alexander's game. He navigates the pick-and-roll well and can effortlessly rise off the dribble. However, he does have a long way to go to be an effective on-ball scorer in the NBA.

Alexander benefited greatly from Creighton's spacing and the lack of rim protection in college. This season, Alexander scored only 1.085 PPP (44th percentile) around the rim. NBA offenses have similar spacing to Creighton's offense, but the NBA has elite athletes who can more quickly recover, elevate, and protect the rim.

Alexander's basic ball-handling and inconsistent at-rim finishing need to improve if he desires to improve as an on-ball scorer.

Here, Alexander initially gets his defender off-balance but lacks the dribble moves and explosion to punish the defender. Once Alexander cuts back towards the lane and gets the defender on his hip, Alexander should have a guaranteed bucket. Instead, he struggles to lose the defender and takes off too early for the wild layup attempt.

Again, Alexander lacks the burst and creativity to create the necessary space for his jumper. The initial drive is the correct decision, but Alexander lacks the speed to beat the larger defender. Alexander then attempts a step-back jumper, but his step-back doesn't create any space. Instead of a step-back, it is more like a standard pull-up jumper.

Alexander won't fill up a stat sheet in the NBA, but he will be a reliable off-ball scorer. He is a good shooter and moves well without the ball. He will struggle to score off the dribble, but if needed, can effectively navigate the pick-and-roll.

The most significant impact Alexander will make, though, will likely come on the defensive end. Even though Alexander lacks the size to switch on wings consistently, he is highly competitive and can lock down guards. He is also a strong team defender who makes timely rotations, jumps passing lanes, and contests shots. On the season, Alexander allowed only 0.652 PPP (94th percentile).

He does a great job of fighting through screens and has flawless footwork that rarely betrays him. He willingly takes on the opposition's best guard and hounds them with his relentless motor. Alexander is rarely out of position or out of his defensive stance. Alexander can routinely cut off drives or react quickly enough to contest jumpers because he stays low in his stance and slides his feet instead of crossing them.

Myles Powell was one of the most electric scorers in college basketball last season. Alexander fought through a screen, recovered, moved his feet to cut off the drive, and reacted quickly enough to heavily contest one of the worst bricks you'll ever see.

Alexander's ability to read and react to his opponent is extremely impressive. There aren't many college guards with this ability, and it is a skill that will immediately translate to the NBA.

Alexander's defensive awareness is also evident as an off-ball defender. He does a great job of running with his man through screens to ensure that he doesn't allow an open jumper.

He is also a threat at forcing turnovers as reading the ball handler's eyes is second nature to him, and he is more than happy to take advantage of any lazy passes.

While Alexander isn't a rim protector, his rotations are timely and disruptive. By getting in the way, Alexander regularly disrupts possessions that should result in easy scores.

In the NBA, it would surprise me if Alexander reached the All-NBA level as a defender. However, I will be shocked if the defensive numbers when Alexander is on the floor aren't extremely impressive.

Going forward, Ty-Shon Alexander doesn't have as high of a ceiling as some other prospects, but he will contribute to a rotation right away. Offensively, Alexander is an off-ball scoring threat who can also create out of the pick-and-roll. As a defender, there are few better guards in this draft than Alexander. He has excellent instincts and fundamentals that allow him to disrupt possessions regularly.

We see players like Alexander regularly succeed in the NBA. This season, guys like Gary Trent Jr. and Terence Davis made significant contributions to their teams despite not being early draft picks. In the 2020 NBA Draft, Ty-Shon Alexander has first-round talent, but it wouldn't surprise me if a team gets an absolute steal in the second round.

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