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Northwestern basketball 2017 player reviews: Vic Law Jr.

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It was a triumphant return from shoulder surgery for Law Jr.

Northwestern v Gonzaga Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Vic Law Jr.’s return to the lineup after missing a year was a major positive on both sides of the ball. Throughout the year, he constantly guarded the opposition’s best perimeter player with great success. He effectively used his length and quickness to limit some of the Big Ten’s best. Not only did he show his on-ball prowess, but he was also a fantastic rebounder. Offensively, Law Jr. remained an effective catch-and-shoot three-point option, but he struggled creating his shot and had some major struggles offensively at times. Still, his size and length gives him mismatches with smaller guards, something Northwestern effectively took advantage of at times by putting him in the post.

Stats

These numbers are taken from kenpom.com

First and foremost, Law logged a ton of minutes this year, especially in conference when Scottie Lindsey got hurt. The number that sticks out in Law’s career is the defensive rebounding rate, which is very impressive for a forward and third on the team behind Dererk Pardon and Sanjay Lumpkin. The numbers also show that Law Jr. continues to be a good three-point shooter. After a cold start to his freshman year, Law heated up in conference play. He improved on last season, shooting over four percent better from behind the arc as a redshirt sophomore than as a true freshman. But his low free throw rate and his relatively low overall shooting percentage show there is still a lot of room to grow.

One interesting note: Law Jr.’s turnover percentage dropped precipitously from his true freshman season, a very good sign.

Shot Distribution

Stats via hoop-math.com.

viclaw.csv

Name FGA TS% eFG% % shots at rim FG% at rim %assisted at rim % shots 2pt J FG% 2pt Jumpers %assisted 2pt J %of shots 3pt 3FG% %assisted 3s FTA/FGA FT%
Name FGA TS% eFG% % shots at rim FG% at rim %assisted at rim % shots 2pt J FG% 2pt Jumpers %assisted 2pt J %of shots 3pt 3FG% %assisted 3s FTA/FGA FT%
Law, Vic 365 0.524 48.40% 26.30% 56.20% 63.00% 33.20% 28.10% 50.00% 40.50% 39.90% 94.90% 33.40% 73.80%

Vic Law Jr. needs to expand his game and develop his own shot. The stats back that up. Only Gavin Skelly, Nathan Taphorn and Barret Benson had a higher percentage of assisted two-point field jump shot field goals, and Law only shot 28.1 percent from that area. Law also had 94.9 percent of his three pointers assisted, an absurdly high amount. Only Taphorn, Skelly and Lumpkin had higher percentages. Compare that with Lindsey’s 84.5 percent or Bryant McIntosh’s 72.6 percent and it’s clear that for Law Jr. to take the next level, he has to create off the dribble.

The good

Law Jr. is a fantastic defender; there is no doubting that. He is extremely versatile and guarded positions one through four this season. He is the team’s best individual defender, and because of that Northwestern took a huge step forward on that end of the floor. He is also a fantastic rebounder on both ends (remember this?) and one of the truly elite athletes at the college level.

Because of his added muscle, Law Jr. was able to compete with bigger players he hadn’t been able to compete with in his freshman year, and his size helped create mismatches on the offensive end. Law Jr. is also a great finisher on the fast break, and he adds an element of speed and jumping ability that Northwestern teams of the past either lacked or didn’t utilize. He also held up well physically.

The bad

It feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Law Jr. simply could not create his own shot. For example, during Lindsey’s four-game absence, he shot 12 of 44, including a 0-of-7 performance against Purdue in West Lafayette. Additionally, Law Jr. really struggled shooting the ball over the latter half of the Big Ten conference schedule. He has to be more consistent.

Offseason Focus

Law Jr. needs to continue to improve upon his ball-handling abilities, especially in halfcourt sets, and his ability to shoot off the dribble. If he can continue to develop as a one-on-one player and give Northwestern a third individual scorer alongside McIntosh and Lindsey, that would create a very potent backcourt.

Law Jr. also finished solidly at the rim this season, but at his size, he could certainly improve the 56.2 shooting percentage at the rim, a number that was lower than every significant player except for McIntosh and Isiah Brown (both point guards) and Taphorn. So packing on the pounds to a somewhat lanky frame would be really helpful, something he should be able to do with a full offseason with a healthy shoulder.

The Bottom Line

Law Jr. is one of the best athletes in Northwestern program history, one of the nation’s best defenders and a capable catch-and-shoot option. But until he can find more ways to score, the high potential his athleticism suggests he should have will never be reached. We saw that in Lindsey’s absence. There was a month-long stretch where he was the worst shooters in the nation. But his presence is invaluable for this squad, and the difference on the defensive end was night and day with him healthy.

Grade: B/B+