clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Film Room: Scouting Vic Law as an NBA Draft prospect

New, 2 comments

Could Law be the one to end Northwestern’s draft drought in a couple years?

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not much of a stretch to say that Northwestern has struggled to produce NBA talent. The last Wildcat drafted (and the last to play in the NBA) was Evan Eschmeyer, a second round pick in 1999. The 2017 NBA Draft will mark the 18th consecutive draft without a selection from Northwestern. But if we’ve learned one thing from the 2016-17 college basketball season, it’s that droughts can be ended. With a recruiting surge led by Chris Collins, the program is full of talent and athleticism, meaning it might not be too long before we see another Wildcat selected by an NBA franchise.

The most obvious candidate from the current roster has to be Vic Law. Law was a blue-chip recruit, and his strong measurables and defensive capabilities make him an intriguing NBA wing prospect. Here’s a look at some of Law’s numbers and game film and what it means for his professional career.

The Vic Law File

Basic info Data Statistic 2016-17 season avg. Shooting percentages 2016-17 season Advanced stats 2016-17 season
Basic info Data Statistic 2016-17 season avg. Shooting percentages 2016-17 season Advanced stats 2016-17 season
Height 6-foot-7 Points 12.3 Overall FG pct. 0.406 ORtg 104.9
Weight 205 lbs Rebounds 5.8 3-pt FG pct. 0.399 eFG% 48.4
Wingspan 6-foot-11.3 (2012) Assists 1.8 FT pct. 0.738 TS% 52.4
Age 21 yrs (Dec. b-day) Steals 1.1 OR% 4.6
2017-18 status Redshirt junior Blocks 0.5 DR% 15.4
Hometown Chicago Turnovers 1.6

Obviously, Law’s height and wingspan are a big plus. In this era, NBA teams are looking for long, athletic players, and teams like the Milwaukee Bucks have built their whole identity around length. Law’s frame gives him the ability to shoot over defenders and block shots on the perimeter and in the paint. He has posted solid rebounding numbers for a wing player and profiles as a 2 or 3 at the next level.

However, while NBA teams value length and athletic ability, they may value youth even more. Law’s redshirt year will be working against him, as he will be 23 for the 2019 NBA Draft, assuming he doesn’t declare early. 13 seniors were drafted in 2016, but only nine saw action in NBA games. Law will have to polish his game and add muscle to his frame in order to stand out as a 23-year-old prospect.

Offense:

A classic “3-and-D” prototype, Law was Northwestern’s second-best three-point shooter by percentage in 2016-17. His 39.9 percent clip is a bit misleading, as he shot on 33.3 percent in conference play and cashed in on opportunities against weaker non-conference opponents. Still, his 44 percent line in Big Ten play in 2015 and big performances against teams like Gonzaga and Wisconsin last season show he can get his shot off against anyone. Law’s biggest strength as a deep threat is his spot-up shooting. In this clip against Wisconsin, Law is able to hop into a Bryant McIntosh pass that is slightly off target and use his height and lift to shoot over 6’8” Nigel Hayes.

Law won’t shoot off the dribble from beyond the arc a la Steph Curry, but he has shown the ability to rip through into a shot. Against Michigan, Law goes right (he doesn’t go left much) around a Gavin Skelly screen and elevates before Zak Irvin can contest.

While his playmaking abilities are still somewhat limited at this point of his career, Law handles the ball in the pick and roll from time to time. Here, he grabs a rebound and takes advantage of poor defense from Maryland to nail a pull-up jumper from the elbow.

A potential development in Law’s offensive game is in the post. Law’s length gives him an advantage in cross-matchups, as he can effectively post up shorter guards and wings. However, he has also shown the ability to post up similarly-sized players. Against Maryland, he backs down Kevin Huerter, using a ball fake and a quick explosion to the key to get open. Law misses a point blank jumper, illustrating that he needs to continue to get more comfortable near the basket, but his quickness and length got him an open shot.

Ultimately, Law’s offensive game isn’t what will be most attractive to NBA teams, barring substantial development over the next year or two. Furthering the development of his three-point shooting will go a long way to cementing his role as a 3-and-D player at the NBA level, but developing shot creation and playmaking skills won’t hurt, either.

Defense:

As noted above, Law has the unique ability to leverage his length against offensive players of all sizes. The redshirt junior averaged only 0.5 blocks per game, but constantly disrupted activity on the perimeter. In the following clips from a non-conference game against Bryant, he recovers to block a three-point jumper from 6-foot-2 guard Nisre Zouzoua and jumps a passing lane to get a live-ball turnover.

Blocking shots from shorter offensive players is one thing, but Law utilized his length against bigger players as well. In this clip, he pins a shot by 6’9” Ivan Bender, elevating to nearly snatch it out of the air.

With Northwestern fighting for a tournament bid at the end of the season, Law went toe-to-toe with Derrick Walton Jr. and Melo Trimble, two of the best guards in the Big Ten, and experienced varying success. In their matchup on Feb. 15, Trimble went off for 32 points on 12-17 shooting, torching the Wildcats with four three-pointers. Law chased Trimble around screens all night. In this clip, he gets caught on two pin-down screens before taking a poor angle to close out, which the quicker Trimble exploits for an easy layup.

Law was also tested in the pick and roll, an important barometer of his defensive prospects at the next level. Trimble gets another easy layup here, but the poor pick and roll defense is the fault of Dererk Pardon as well. Law forces Trimble into the screen, yet Pardon doesn’t hedge, and switching is a futile effort given Trimble’s burst.

Against Michigan, Law did a terrific job against Walton, who scored 15 points on 13 shots. He was able to use his lateral quickness and size to disrupt Walton’s playmaking abilities and mitigate his impact. On this out-of-bounds pick and roll play, Law stays with Walton around the screen, then gets his arms in the air to generate a deflection and steal.

Here, he does a textbook job of shuffling his feet to force Walton to the baseline and coerce him into making another dangerous jump pass.

Primarily, Northwestern used Law to guard their opponent’s best perimeter player, largely because the Wildcats had Sanjay Lumpkin and Dererk Pardon to match up against big men. With Lumpkin gone, it will be interesting to see if Chris Collins uses Law against stretch fours who can post up or if Law will reprise his role as a perimeter stopper. At 205 pounds, Law does not have the build and strength of Lumpkin, who looks a lot more like NBA wing stoppers Jae Crowder (235 pounds) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (232 pounds) than Law does. A more apt comparison might be the Warriors’ Klay Thompson (215 pounds), who often draws tough guard matchups like Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook while wing matchups go to Kevin Durant or Draymond Green.

The bottom line:

Law’s path to the NBA will undoubtedly be an uphill climb. He has the basic outline for a 3-and-D role player at the next level given his length, athleticism, defensive ability, and shooting stroke, but his skills and body need to develop to climb up draft boards. Over the next season or two, Law will need to become a lockdown perimeter defender and a consistent knockdown three-point shooter to attract the attention of NBA scouts. A more reasonable path to the league might be as an undrafted free agent. In 2019, Law will be 23 going on 24, but he will have four year’s experience as a starter in one of the best conferences in college basketball. Former Big Ten standouts Yogi Ferrell and Bryn Forbes carved out successful roles in the NBA this season as undrafted free agents, and that just might be the path for Law at the next level.