Despite the start of the G League season being more than two months away, the building blocks of rosters for every team has been slowly started to get revealed. That unveiling comes courtesy of NBA teams signing various prospects to two-ways and Exhibit 10 deals. Guys that sign Exhibit 10 contracts before training camp can only receive their bonus after playing 60 days with the big league club’s G League affiliate. Meanwhile, prospects on two-way deals are only allowed to spend 45 days on the NBA team’s roster when the G League season is going on, which essentially limits them to their G League affiliate.
One team that has done a great job of sign quality talent to those types of deals is the San Antonio Spurs. That praise starts out with their two-way duo of Drew Eubanks and Weatherspoon. Eubanks will return to Austin after a strong rookie year where he averaged 2.6 blocks in only 25 minutes per game during the 2018-19 campaign. Meanwhile, Weatherspoon is a versatile offensive weapon that shined during his college career with Mississippi State.
So far, the Spurs have only signed two players, Daulton Hommes and Dedric Lawson, to Exhibit 10 deals. However, they’ve hit it out of the park with both players. Hommes won the 2019 Division II Player of the Year award for a fantastic season with Point Loma, where he put up 21.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 53% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. The 6’8 forward was able to put up those types of numbers through lights out perimeter shooting and smart offensive play.
Although we’re likely going to get to Hommes on a future date, this piece is going to be dedicated to the more well-known player of that duo. After spending his first three years in college either at Memphis or in transfer purgatory, Lawson played with the University of Kansas during the 2018-19 season.
In that lone season, he was able to immediately shine to the point of standing out as one of the best players in the Big 12. As a junior, he averaged 19.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals on 49% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc in 33 minutes per game. Those numbers were good enough to have him get named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Those high scoring numbers mostly came through him having a balanced offensive attack. During that lone season with the Jayhawks, he showcased himself to be able to contribute through posting up, working the offensive glass, making off-ball cuts, setting screens, facilitating and hitting perimeter jumpers. Among that handful of traits, offensive rebounding and posting up are the two skills that he puts the majority of his focus on.
Lawson concentrating on those two skills makes absolute sense as those are the two traits that he’s best at. First off, he averaged 3.1 rebounds per game during his lone season at Kansas, which placed him third in the Big 12. Most of those boards came from the 6’9, 235 pounds forward effectively using a combination of nice size and effort to gain an advantage over any opposing front-court player that he might be matched up against. After grabbing those rebounds, he regularly does a decent job of determining whether to push the ball out to one of his teammates or just go finish at the rim.
Another area where the Kansas alum shines at is the low-post, where he can work on both the left and right block. In either area, he shows a ton of promise through the utilization of drop steps and spin moves that allow him to both create separation from the opposition and get a better look at the rim.
While that solid footwork allowed him to get closer to the rim more times than not, that technique can also allow him to get looks as a shooter. An example of that is seen in the clip below as Lawson utilizes a spin move to move from a simple post position to having his body facing the rim. On that angle, he puts up a nice jumper over the hands of an Arizona State defender.
Although a lot of his work on offense comes inside the paint, the Kansas alum has shown promise as an outside threat. That was most evident last year where he shot 39% on 2.5 attempts per game. While the sample size might be small, his jumper looks smooth but yet a bit on the slow side. That sluggish label mostly comes from how his approach starts with putting the ball to his knees after capturing the pass. Despite that slower start, the rest of the jumper looks smooth as he finishes with a high release point.
Talking about how he works off the catch was purposeful as that currently stands as the only area where he can hit perimeter shots. Within his role as the JayHawks’ #1 screen setter, that approach works from the perspective of him being able to work in the pick-and-pop with his backcourt partner. An example of him working in that area is seen in the clip below as the Kansas guard works towards the top of the key to capture the defense’s attention before dishing it off to the former Kansas forward, who is able to put up a successful jumper before the TCU defender can closeout.
Whether it was steals, passes, rebounds or overall scoring efficiency, Lawson progressed in most areas during his lone season at Kansas. However, one area where he took a bit of a tumble was facilitating as he had 1.7 assists per game in 2018-19, a significant fall from the 2.5 and 3.3 assists per game he averaged during his two seasons at Memphis. Despite that decline, he still showed himself to be a reliable distributor in those limited opportunities.
The 6’9 forward does an excellent job of seeing over the court and being able to find an open teammate, whether they’re stationed on the perimeter or cutting to the paint. Even if he’s defended, the Kansas alum can both see and throw precise passes to his teammates. An example of that is evident in the clip below, where he hits Udoka Azubuike with a sweet alley-oop feed.
His work on the other end of the court is definitely a question mark as his defensive effort can be inconsistent. When he is focused, Lawson can impress as he can do some work as a help defender. Meanwhile, his sturdy 235-pound frame and quick feet allow him to be a decent rim protector.
Despite his inconsistent defensive play and not being the most athletic player in the world, Lawson stands as an excellent prospect that combines smart play and a versatile offensive skill-set. That combination alone should allow him to immediately stand as one of the better rookies in the G League. However, maintaining a consistent perimeter jumper at the G League would definitely improve his stock as a prospect to the point of receiving 10-day or even a two-way deal from another NBA team.
While we’ll have to wait a few months to see if he will play well enough to receive one of those deals, Dedric Lawson still stands as a talented prospect that fans should keep their eyes on when he makes his debut with the Austin Spurs in November.