February 13, 2008 - Lawson Draft and Game Evaluation

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There's an interesting breakdown of Ty Lawson's game and his pro prospects by Jonathan Givony over at DraftExpress. Here are a few highlights. It's worth a read.

There’s probably no better time to evaluate Ty Lawson’s contribution to North Carolina than right now, after sitting out the last four games with a high ankle sprain and giving us a chance to see just what he means to his team. North Carolina has struggled in every game he’s missed so far, losing one to Duke, needing overtime to defeat Clemson at home, and then struggling to defeat some of the worst teams in the ACC on the road against Florida State and Virginia. It’s pretty clear by now that they miss Lawson, and any talk of him just being a product of their system has been proven to be incorrect. From what we can tell—he is actually the key to the way they play. Look no further than the fact that they score 92.1 points per game with Lawson in their lineup, and “only” 83.4 points without him.

Comparing the prospect we saw last year and the one in front of us today, we clearly see some progress made between his freshman and sophomore years. Lawson is scoring at a much better rate, but is also doing so while being significantly more efficient. He’s getting to the free throw line better, and has improved his percentages from the stripe dramatically, nearly 14%. His 3-point percentages, assists and turnovers have stayed virtually the same, and he’s currently #2 in the country in Pure Point Rating.

With that said, Lawson’s strengths and weaknesses still look to be about the same. There still isn’t anyone that can stay in front of him in transition, and his ability to push the ball up the floor and slice his way through traffic remains unparalleled at the collegiate level. His body control, ball-handling skills, and incredible speed in the open floor are what make him the terrific prospect he is, and are the main reason why North Carolina is the second highest scoring team in the country.

43% of Lawson’s offense comes in transition, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified player reports. That’s an incredibly high number—for comparison, Derrick Rose stands at 23.3%, DJ Augustin at 17.8%, Eric Gordon at 21.9%, O.J. Mayo at 18.3%, Jerryd Bayless at 16.8%, and Darren Collison is at 25.3%...

Defensively, we find mostly a mixed bag. On one hand, Lawson is very physical, strong, with superb lateral quickness, capable of staying in front of almost any point guard and being very pesky contesting shots. He also does an excellent job getting in the passing lanes, and will ignite some one-man fast breaks all by himself every game by picking up a couple of steals.