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Gani Lawal Discusses His Itch To Get Back To The NBA

Gani Lawal's basketball journey has taken him to numerous countries, but he is starting to make strides in the NBA D-League.

Chris Priczak/Ridiculous Upside

A native of College Park, Georgia, Gani Lawal stayed local for his collegiate years. Although Lawal entered the NBA Draft in 2009, he opted to return to Georgia Tech for a third year. In his third season as a Yellow Jacket, he led the team in field goal percentage. In the same year, Georgia Tech made it to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Game, where the team lost to the Duke Blue Devils.

After a season where Lawal averaged 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, he declared for the NBA Draft. With the forty-sixth overall pick, the Phoenix Suns selected Gani Lawal. Even though the former Georgia Tech product signed a three-year deal with the Suns, he only spent a year in Phoenix due to the 2011 lockout. Lawal signed with Zastal Zielona Góra of the Polish Basketball League, but he returned to the NBA when the lockout was lifted. Upon returning to the Association, he was waived by the Suns.

In the span of five years, the big manl spent time with numerous teams overseas. Before coming to the D-League, Lawal signed with Emporio Armani Milano of the Italian Basketball League. He played in eight games (three league games and five Euroleague games) before leaving the team. "I felt very confident," Gani Lawal told RidiculousUpside.com. "And for me, I'm a man of faith. I still had an itch to try to get back to the NBA. So when the situation presented itself, I wanted to go for it." In December of 2015, he was acquired by the Delaware 87ers, the Philadephia 76ers' D-League affiliate. Less then a month later, he was traded to the Westchester Knicks.

He proved how productive and efficient he was during his time in Westchester. After getting acclimated to the system, Lawal had a streak of solid performances. In his final five games with the Knicks, the 6'9" forward averaged 14.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in 17.2 minutes per contest. "When it comes to myself, I just want to make the best of any minutes I get," Lawal said. "My mindset when I step on the floor is be relaxed, be calm, let it come, (and) seize every opportunity." In those five games, he shot seventy-one percent from the field.

Gani Lawal scored 25 points and nabbed 17 rebounds against the Iowa Energy.

On February 23rd, Lawal was traded to the Reno Bighorns. The Bighorns, like the Delaware 87ers, run an uptempo style of play. Lawal had no issue getting used to the system, as he had a productive performance in his debut with Reno; the forward totaled 11 points and 12 rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

Lawal has had his own journey when it comes to basketball. The former Georgia Tech product is playing for his third D-League team this season, but he continues to carry the same mentally and goal day-in and day-out. "Real simple, get back to the NBA and stay," Lawal said. "But before I can get there, I got to master here. So my biggest thing here is being a good teammate, working hard daily, and making sure I stay prayed up."

While his basketball journey has taken him to different countries, he feels confident in making an NBA team. His recent streak speaks for itself. Lawal is a veteran who does not need the ball in his hand, but can score when needed. The Bighorns forward has shown to be efficient with his shot selection. In addition, he has shown his ability to rebound. Lawal has shown the ability to be effective in limited minutes, which could be beneficial to several teams in the final stretch of the season.