AJ Lawson Scouting Report

CONTEXT

AJ Lawson ranked seventh in the U19 World Championships in total scoring – putting up 117 points in 203 minutes.

Canada placed eighth in the tournament in somewhat disappointing fashion, even when you consider this group isn’t as talented as the one that won the title two years ago, but the six-foot-six shooter probably managed to improve his status coming out of it. He shot better and at a higher clip than he did in his first year at South Carolina, while taking some of these shots on the move.

Lawson also passed well on basic pick-and-rolls and showed a little bit of shot creation potential against a set defense, proving himself able to get a shot off in high leverage situations, but struggled to finish in this setting as well – which tanked his effective field goal percentage. As is the case, the 19-year-old[1] continues to profile as a more of a floor-spacer.

On the other end, Lawson put in the effort defending on the ball and executing the scheme but didn’t prove himself an ace defender, didn’t fly around to create events and didn’t make much of an impact in the hidden areas of the game.

SHOOTING

The Mississauga native took 56.4% of his shots from three-point range in the event, while averaging 10.4 such attempts per 40 minutes. He nailed 39.6% of them[2].

Besides basic spot-ups, Lawson showed a dynamic enough release to take shots on the move as well – out of Iverson cuts, coming off pindown screens and sprinting to the ball for handoffs, as he caught the ball on the hop, got great elevation to shoot over closeouts and pulled the trigger quickly.

SHOT CREATION

Lawson ran a good deal of side pick-and-roll to keep the offense moving and showed he is capable at hitting the roll man over the top – assisting on 21.2% of Canada’s scores when he was on the floor.

He has a quick first step and has also shown some dexterity pass-faking to clear a path to the basket but doesn’t attack the rim with any power and struggled to finish with a defender parked between him and the goal – converting just 43.9% of his 41 two-point shots in the tournament.

He launched a few floaters off a jump-stop to try acting as a scoring threat from the in-between area but struggled with his touch on those as well.

Lawson had some responsibility creating shots late in the shot clock and got some good looks off on jumpers – crossing over into step-back pull-ups in isolation and creating separation for stop-and-pop pull-ups in pick-and-roll. But he struggles to play through contact due to his thin 180-pound frame and rarely managed to get to the rim in a position of strength.

DEFENSE

Lawson bent his knees to get down in a stance and played with pretty good effort defending on the ball.

He was only so-so at getting skinny through ball-screens at the point of attack but hustled in pursuit to bother or challenge shots from behind, though without doing so at a particularly impactful level.

Lawson moves his feet laterally well enough to stay in front and contests pull-ups but lacks the bulk and physicality to contain dribble penetration through contact. That lack of strength also hurt him in post defense against opposing wings, as he struggled to hold his ground.

Lawson executed the scheme fine for the most part – helping clog driving lanes, rotating to the front of the rim to attempt a block on occasion and helping the helper with boxouts. He is not that fast, that bouncy, that physical or that lengthy to make a significant impact in these areas, though.

As is, Lawson continues to project as more of a zero defender[3] who might offer a little bit of versatility playing down (switching or crossmatching) if he were to start showing a lot more tenacity.


[1] DOB: 7/15/2000

[2] According to Real GM

[3] Doesn’t help, doesn’t hurt

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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