Bryce Alford was the most athletically disadvantaged of UCLA’s eight rotation players last season. He was the weakest on defense. He had the most trouble driving to the basket – he shot 46 percent at the rim, 18 percent less than the closest UCLA player.
But the 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard may find his way onto an NBA roster because his strength is the fastest-rising commodity in the league. Alford shot 43 percent from 3-point range his last season at UCLA. And as far as volume is concerned, he set the school’s single-season and career record for 3-pointers, surpassing the marks of nine-year NBA veteran Jason Kapono.
Alford has been invited to his share of workouts approaching Thursday’s NBA draft, including by both the Lakers and Clippers, and the Pacers from his native Indiana.
Alford’s assessment of his chances to be one of the 60 draft picks? He is right on the edge, meaning he could be one of the 60 or he may not. He was clear about where he wanted to end up.
“My dream has been the NBA my whole life,” Alford said following his workout with the Pacers. “I’ve never been interested in going over seas. That would be a plan C, plan D kind of thing. If I had to spend a year in the D League that would be fine. Or if I had to spend a year overseas to get a shot that way, whatever it takes for me to get to the NBA, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Alford said he has been worked out at both guard positions. He primarily played point guard his first three seasons at UCLA before moving off the ball when Lonzo Ball arrived last year.
Considering the athletic disadvantage he will be facing, Alford makes little sense as a point guard in the NBA. He did flash some surprisingly crafty ways to score around the basket last season, and he is a very intelligent player, as one might expect from a coach’s son. But the only sustainable trait that can land Alford in the NBA is his shooting ability.
His best season at UCLA was clearly his last, the only glimpse we got of Alford when he wasn’t carrying a far heavier load than should have been assigned to him. Compared to the best marks over his first three seasons, Alford shot five percent better from the field and four percent better from 3-point range as a senior.
“I know where I’m at,” Alford said. “I’m right on the border of making it (to the NBA) or not making it.”