RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Gani LawalPosted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2010
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Gani Lawal
School: Georgia Tech
Height/Weight: 6’9, 233
NBA Position: Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: Late first round/early second round
Overview: Gani Lawal came to Georgia Tech three seasons ago as a McDonald’s All-American with a reputation as a high-motor rebounder. Over his career with the Yellow Jackets he did nothing to dishonor that reputation, leading his team in both scoring and rebounding the last two season. Last offseason, he tested the draft waters, but wound up returning for his junior year. While his numbers took a bit of a dip in 2009-10, some of that can be attributed to having to share the post touches and rebounds with fellow early entry Derrick Favors. His game, however, did take some strides forward: his mediocre free-throw shooting improved a bit despite a late season dip, he improved his footwork in the post, and he increased his offensive efficiency there. However, he clearly has a limited upside, is not a natural offensive scorer and is limited outside of the paint.
Will Translate to the NBA: Lawal’s work-ethic is impeccable. He’s got a non-stop motor and relishes doing the dirty work inside. He is athletic and a strong rebounder with good size including a 7’0 wingspan, and while limited offensively, is quite aware of that fact and doesn’t force things. He is capable of scoring on the block and around the rim and has a pretty strong left hand for a natural righty. He is also capable of getting up and down the floor well and finishing on the break. While he’ll never be a go-to option at the NBA level, he is capable of being a solid role player, strong defender and strong rebounder.
Needs Work: Nearly all of Lawal’s weaknesses are on the offensive end, and the list is fairly extensive. He doesn’t have much of a face-up game, his handles aren’t great, he doesn’t have a great looking jumpshot and, rightfully so, isn’t very confident in it. He is a terrible free throw shooter, although he showed that he is capable of improving there: he shot nearly 70% from the line prior to the ACC season in 09-10, but reverted to just 46% from the line during ACC play. And, on the defensive end, he could use some work defending on the perimeter. Basically, Lawal is effective in and around the paint; a step or two outside of the lane is where Lawal could use plenty of work.
Comparison Players: He’ll be an NBA role player who contributes defensively and on the glass. He’s Brandon Bass, with maybe an upside of Udonis Haslem, providing energy off the bench, doing the dirty work, and being the type of guy who, when you look at the box scores, you may not even notice: four points on three attempts, five rebounds, a blocked shot in 18 minutes. You know, the kind of guy who is quietly very valuable in the League.
Best Case Scenario: Lawal’s offensive game comes along slowly but surely. He spends a couple of years mostly riding the pine for a team that is an NBA title contender (in an ideal world for Lawal, he is picked at the back end of the first round, earning a guaranteed salary), learning from seasoned veterans and providing spot minutes, sometimes in very important situations. Eventually, maybe three years in, he earns a spot in a rotation, getting 15-20 minutes on normal occasions and getting some starts here and there when the normal starter is injured or otherwise out. At the height of his career, maybe he averages eight points and six rebounds, occasionally going for 15 and 10 for a game here and there.
2013 Projection: In his third season, Lawal should earn a spot in a rotation somewhere, getting minutes spelling a starting power forward. If he hasn’t earned a spot by then, he likely never will and will be headed towards the door rather than the floor. He’ll get a couple of years to get comfortable in the NBA and learn his role, but if by 2013 he is not ready to play minutes on a regular basis, his spot on the roster may be susceptible to being saved for the next young big-man prospect. That said, we think Lawal will earn his minutes by 2013 and be the unspectacular, hard-working contributor that we detail above: rebounder, defender, a garbage man on offense.
Best NBA Fit: Unfortunately for Lawal, many of the spots at the back end of the first round are occupied by teams that missed the playoffs but acquired their picks via trade. Atlanta at #24 would be a good match for Lawal, as there is very little in the way of big men beyond Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia under contract for next season. However there may be more attractive big men still available at that spot. If Lawal does slip into the second round, he would be a great fit with the Lakers at #43. While he certainly doesn’t want to fall that far (or even out of the first round), there are no big men under contract in Los Angeles next year beyond Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Lawal would have a very good chance to make the Laker roster and spend a few years learning from some of the best in the game.
* Andrew Murawa contributed this profile to RTC