Joe Alexander, the eighth overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, has returned to Santa Cruz to embark on a second season with the Warriors of the NBA D-League.
Since first hitting The Association hardwood, Alexander has had to fight off ongoing injuries over the years. What's more, at 6'8" and 230 pounds, he's continued to face questions about his true identity as an NBA player --- what position should he play? Where does he fit? Does it even matter?
Ironically enough, Alexander's role in much more defined in the D-League. He's a big man. Given the way he's able to assert himself down low, and the general (smaller) make-up of the league as a whole, allowing him to serve as a 4/5, much more so than a 3/4, comes as a no-brainer.
"Right now, it looks like I'm one of our biggest guys. That's just the way it works out in the D-League," Alexander told RidiculousUpside.com about playing for Santa Cruz. "Sometimes, those [smaller] teams can give bigger teams trouble. We end up going small sometimes, regardless. It's not something I'm personally not used to. We've seen it before."
Playing a big role in small-ball doesn't appear to be something that concerns the 27 year old whatsoever. Preparing to embrace such a style of play in the minor league is becoming somewhat of a requirement these days, and James Andrisevic, an assistant coach for Santa Cruz, can see why.
"This is all pretty fast-paced. The thing about smaller guys is that, when a guy has good size, he's going to play in the NBA," the coach said. "There aren't too many guys that are that tall, as well as that skilled, who aren't in the NBA. We'll definitely play against bigger guys, though, and we'll have to be ready."
Alexander is considered more of a tweener in the NBA, but in the D-League, steps in as more of a bruising big man. Should this be considered playing out position? On one hand, Alexander isn't exactly showcasing what he might be expected to do on a big league level. But on the flip side, he's gaining more versatility, and his size and stature allow him to be more dominant down in the low post, both offensively and defensively.
He happens to believe this is a positive thing.
"I think I always have an advantage, because people look at me and expect something different. No matter how much film they've watched or what they've seen from me, they always manage to assume something about my game," he added. "No one expects me to jump as high, run as fast, or be as physical. I'm always at an advantage. D-League or no D-League."