Sure it’s a bit odd that I’d wish to break down a player available later in the draft rather than at No. 4, but hey, I find this all intriguing anyway. The way I see it, I would have enjoyed a breakdown of Greene last year and he wasn’t selected until No. 28. In case you were wondering, the name is pronounced GONE-ee luh-WALL. Despite not getting much love on the STR draft board of late (six players received more votes for the No. 22 pick), Lawal is a legitimate option for the No. 23 selection. Lawal was interviewed at the Draft Combine in Chicago last month and has since been observed by Kings brass at a large group workout in Oakland and will workout in Sacramento today (June 13th).
Recently, STR poster "nbrans" contemplated Lawal as the 5th best power forward in this draft – behind Josh Heytvelt but ahead of Blair, Hansbrough and (assumingly) Derrick Brown. I quote from that post: "Ladies and gentlemen, the next Reggie Evans. Lawal might be the strongest guy in this entire draft besides Griffin. He's tough, he's got a nose for the ball, he's got decent hops. He's also a tad undersized and, although perfectly decent, won't wow you athletically. Is that worth the #23? You betcha. Would Petrie touch Lawal with a ten foot pole? Only if he was carrying a Marcel Proust novel."
Section 214 has also commented on Lawal in the past, stating, "At 6’8" and 233 lbs., he’s a tad small for the NBA power forward position. He reminds me a little of Brandon Bass, though Bass is a much, much, much better shooter."
Allow me though to describe Lawal in greater detail. At the combine in Chicago he measured a legitimate 6’9’’ with shoes. He also weighed 229 lbs., with a 7’0" wingspan and 34.5" vertical. In terms of height that is taller than DeJuan Blair (6’6.5"), James Johnson (6’7.75") and Derrick Brown (6’8.5") but just shorter than Tyler Hansbrough (6’9.5") and Omri Casspi (6’9.25"). In comparison to other players – Lawal is the exact height Donte Greene was measured at last year before the draft. It is also the exact same height as David Lee when he came out in 2005.
In terms of height and weight combined, Lawal compares to Jeff Green (6’9.5" and 228 lbs.) and David Lee (6’9" and 230 Ibs.). Again, the 7’0" wingspan matches Lee as well. Other players with comparable wingspans include Michael Beasley and Josh Smith. Both Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough had smaller wingspans. Other players with verticals leap measurements the same as Lawal are Beasley and Craig Smith. Also somewhat of note is that Lawals’ height, vertical leap and bench measurements are above average for PF’s measuring at the combine.
Nbrans mentioned Reggie Evans and Section compared Lawal to Brandon Bass. Here is how those two each compare to Lawal in terms of measurements:
Lawal – 6’9" w/ shoes; 229 lbs.; 7’0" wingspan; 30" no step vertical
Evans – 6’8.5" w/ shoes; 250 lbs.; 7’2.5" wingspan; 26" no step vertical
Bass – 6’7.25" w/ shoes; 246 lbs.; 7’2.5" wingspan; 31" no step vertical
Overall solid comparisons in terms of these measurements. Lawal does possess better height and better vertical than Evans, but his wingspan is shorter than both and slightly shorter than average PF’s at the combine over the years.
Based on these findings I would conclude that one of Lawal’s strengths is his athleticism – as mentioned by DX – but he’s not going to wow someone like a Josh Smith, nor does he have the length of an Anthony Randolph. He is strong and he might not be quite as undersized as a PF as some might have declared. After all, look at Blair who is generally seen as a surety to be selected in the top 20 of this draft.
Some of Lawal’s other strengths include the fact that he is still pretty young (he won’t turn 21 until November and only spent two years at Georgia Tech where he improved tremendously from one season to the next), he plays solid post defense and has the ability to block shots (he averaged 1.5 last season in 29 minutes), and his jumper is commendable.
Coming out of high school in Georgia, Lawal was heavily recruited by schools including North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and Kentucky. He was seen as a terrific rebounder that was "rangy, athletic and has inside-outside capabilities."
In conclusion, this isn’t necessarily a Lawal promotion. I only felt he deserved a closer look since the Kings will have now seen him on several different occasions. In a recent Sam Amick piece discussing how an additional big man could aid the Kings’ rotation, Lawal had this to say: "Any team that picks me, I'm going to do the dirty work from the power forward (position). I try to use my length and athleticism for rebounding, blocking, altering shots, just being a beast around the boards. Just be strong down there and play hard and give it my all every time I step out on the court. I just think I could bring real sense of workmanship." I’m all for those attributes and I feel that a player of those qualities could be a great benefit spelling JT off the bench. Maybe that player will be someone else like Omri Casspi or via the return of Ike Diogu, but I’d argue that Lawal certainly deserves a second look.
Photo via www.nbadraft.net