On the night of the NBA draft, former Kansas forward Dedric Lawson did not hear his name called. However, shortly after the conclusion of the draft, Yahoo senior NBA insider Chris Haynes reported Lawson would play with the Golden State Warriors in the Summer League.
Undrafted forward Dedric Lawson out of Kansas has committed to playing Summer League with the Golden State Warriors, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. He was the BIG 12’s top scorer (19.1) and rebounder (10.6).— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 21, 2019
Lawson was a pivotal part for the Jayhawks last season and played an important role in helping Kansas find any sort of success. His style of play will translate well into the NBA, but there are things holding the former Jayhawk back from making any sort of impact on an NBA roster.
During his junior season, Lawson became a threat when shooting, hitting 39% of his three-point shots. He shot 49% from the field and was an 81.5% shooter from the free-throw line.
All three of those percentages were career highs for Lawson, and players who shoot like him are the types of players that NBA teams are searching for.
Despite his strong offensive game, the athleticism held Lawson back from being a top prospect in the draft. In fact, at the NBA combine, Lawson posted some of the worst numbers, finishing last in the max vertical leap and second to last in the shuttle run.
Lawson is not the type of player to dominate with athleticism and it showed at the combine. He also will not likely gain much more athleticism, which will make his journey to a successful NBA career a difficult one.
Lawson fits the Warrior's style of play. He can spread the floor, pass out from the low post and is capable of running the floor. The problem is he is rather slow, which makes it difficult for him to fit the transition style Golden State tends to play.
He is also rather small for his position, which will create a problem when switching off on defenders, and the Warriors tend to switch off frequently. The lack of speed also prevents him from switching off with high success.
Give him speed and height, and Lawson would be a perfect fit for the Warriors and would have more than likely been a first-round pick. His style of play perfectly fits the NBA, and he was arguably the most skilled player going into the draft.
With the Summer League coming up, what can Lawson do to secure his name on an NBA roster?
First, Lawson has to somehow prove the lack of athleticism will not affect him too much. He has to find ways to score, especially below the rim, while also showcasing his ability to shoot.
Lawson has to find ways to get open from behind the arc; and when he takes the ball below the rim, he needs to make the best possible decisions, whether it be scoring or passing out.
When he can, he should try to overpower defenders, even though he is not the strongest guy on the court. If he can out-brute players, it would go a long way for his path to the NBA.
Second, Lawson needs to make the hustle plays. He is not quick or agile, but he still managed to lead the Big 12 in rebounding.
Lawson must go for the loose balls, position himself to get offensive rebounds and always continue moving on the court — he cannot afford to be caught lacking. He must play similar to former Kansas center Joel Embiid and dive into the floor for the ball.
If Lawson makes the motor plays and proves he is capable of being a surge on energy, NBA scouts are going to take notice.
Lastly, he needs to figure out ways to outsmart players on the defensive side of the ball. Lawson will not use his athleticism to block shots or lock down defenders, so he needs to figure out an alternative style.
Lawson is not a great back to the basket defender and can struggle in the post, but if he makes smart plays by picking the pocket of the offensive player or forcing a mismatch against the offense, he could find success.
The path to a full-time spot on an NBA roster will not be easy for Lawson, but the Summer League will play an important role in his journey. If he can showcase his skills and manage to show that he can still beat players with his high basketball IQ, NBA teams will come calling.
Summer League action begins on Monday, July 1.