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Stats: 16.6 ppg, 6.6 apg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 spg, 1.9 t/o's, 53.2% FG, 47.2% 3FG, 79.8% FT,
Listed Size: 6'0", 195 lb, 11/3/87 (21 years old)
About Him: With the return of four underclassmen last season, North Carolina’s high-powered offense became damn near unstoppable. The biggest reason for that was Lawson, who won ACC player of the year honors over his teammate, and fellow first team All-American Tyler Hansbrough.
There is not a faster player in the country with the ball in his hands than Lawson. But what is amazing about his speed is that he rarely seems to be playing out of control, as evidenced by his 3.4:1 a:t/o (assist to turnover) ratio. In the open court there is not much you can do to stop him. He has a great handle, changes directions very well, but usually does not need them as all it takes in one quick move and he is by you.
In the lane, Lawson is an exceptional finisher at the rim. He is built like a running back (really strong with a compact upper body), which allows him to go through contact, bouncing off bigger defenders despite often giving up size. He also is a great passer, knowing when to shoot and when to give the ball up to an open teammate.
This season, Lawson added a very effective three-point shot to his arsenal, although he is limited in when he can use it. He was only a threat to shoot if he caught the ball with his feet set and a lot of space to shoot because his release is very slow. In addition, he was also a threat if he shot off the dribble from a static position. When shooting on the move, either off the dribble or the catch, Lawson is much less dangerous. But given the improvement to his overall shooting ability, I would say he has the potential to become a dangerous shooter with time. Lawson also struggles in the mid-range game. Simply put, if Lawson put the ball on the floor this past season, he was going to the rim - pull-ups are not yet in his repertoire.
For all he can do offensively, Lawson has yet to prove himself to be consistently effective in the half court set. He is clearly a guy that you want if you are playing an up-tempo style of ball (can you imagine Lawson in Mike D'Antoni's system?), but not so much for a team playing a slower tempo.
On the defensive end, Lawson proved himself to be very dangerous, especially off the ball (just look at the title game - eight steals). He is adept at jumping passing lanes or coming from the weak side and stripping a post-up player. His out of this world quickness also allows him to get to a huge number of loose balls. Where he may struggle on the defensive end is in one-on-one situations, simply because of his height.
What was most impressive to me about Lawson was how good of a true "point guard" he turned out to be. Lawson had a knack for getting his teammates shots throughout the first half, and then taking over down the stretch if his team needed it. For example, the LSU game from the second round of the NCAA tournament when Lawson had 21 second half points en route to a 14 point UNC win.
Comparisons: Best Case: Healthy TJ Ford, Ray Felton; Worst Case: Poor man's Jamaal Tinsley
Bottom Line: Lawson is not going to be a guy like Chris Paul or Deron Williams in the NBA. He's not a guy that can really adapt to a system. But if he finds the right team and the right fit, he can absolutely be a productive point in the League.
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