NBA Draft '19: Dedric Lawson Season Preview
Photo Courtesy of Sporting News
Sibling rivalries are no joke.
Any time you hear of a professional athlete having grown up with a similarly aged sibling, it’s almost a certainty that they’ve had the “brittle spirit” smashed out of them via countless backyard battles (imagine the Morris twins’ childhood games of 21!) Having grown up with an older brother, two younger brothers, & a father who coaches, Kansas’ Dedric Lawson has definitely been sharpened by the irons of family competition.
While younger brothers Chandler (HS class of ‘19, 6-foot-8 wing) & Johnathan (HS class of ‘21, 6-foot-6 wing - & low key the most talented of the four according to the family) are still working their way through the high school system in the family hometown of Memphis, 6-foot-9 Dedric (along with older brother KJ, a 6-foot-7 wing) has decided to leave Memphis & the Tigers, & has committed to the Jayhawks’ revamped program. The split from Memphis was acrimonious - both brothers left & their father quit his player development job after developing irreconcilable differences with former Tigers coach Tubby Smith (Google it if you love soap operas). The tense environment didn’t affect Lawson’s play though, with the big man filling the stat sheet with impunity during his sophomore year (19.2ppg, 9.9rpg, 3.3apg, 2.1bpg, 1.3spg).
At 236 pounds, it’s unsurprising that Lawson easily holds his own in the paint. His soft hands & passing ability may be a surprise to newcomers, though. Kansas coach Bill Self has certainly noticed, & plans to run a lot of the offense through him down on the low block & up at the elbow. His outside shooting isn’t anything to write home about yet (27% on 3.5 attempts last season), but his shooting form looks nice, & the combination of a 74% FT clip & a coach for a dad should help him see improvements there. He’s still enough of a threat due to his playmaking ability to be able to space the floor, & when he does venture inside, he’s more than comfortable bashing around & scrapping for second-chance points off the glass (see what I did there?)
Lawson looks like a much more traditional forward without the ball. His positioning is good, he doesn’t bite on pump fakes, & two blocks a game will get you a roster spot at any level. Occasionally he can look a little gassed, but it’s nothing you wouldn’t expect from a big man that’s hustling on every play. While he'll never be an elite perimeter defender, his solid hand-eye coordination should save him from too much embarrassment if he gets isolated on a mismatch.
In an era when we’re used to one-and-done players as the norm, a 21-year old junior may not have the most exciting optics for prospect followers; however, Lawson’s well-rounded game & skills dishing the rock should still see him get picked up in the late first round (if his development arc continues the same way, of course.) With the support of his new coach & his brother playing alongside him, it seems that Dedric Lawson has all the tools to spearhead a family dynasty over the next few years.