It's very interesting how everyone develops their own "habits" or ways to accomplish the same thing.
I personally haven't caught on to these ND grads for that very reason: alignment. I may do multiple exposure and do some tone mapping or spot-meter and post-process.
Maybe I've watched too much CSI Miami..lol..every single outdoor shot they have on that series has such a heavy grad filter and it looks horrible to my eyes. The same was the case in the old days with Miami Vice - Michael Mann really loved his grads as well..lol. Oh, and nearly every single postcard from Miami looks that way as well. Having been to Miami and felt the oppressive humid heat and seen the utterly washed out/bleached and sun-blasted city, I can't say I blame them..lol.
Anyway, pardon me for digressing..as you can see I have deep psychological barriers against these grad-filters..lol.
The bottom line to me is "whatever looks good" so don't get me wrong. There are millions of great shots out there where I wouldn't even know that a grad filter had been used. I just tend to use other methods.