Vic Law led the 2018-19 Northwestern Wildcats in usage rate, field goal attempts, three-point attempts, defensive rebounds, assists, and steals. He did it all despite dealing with multiple injuries over the course of the season and while maintaining his status as one of the better perimeter defenders in the Big Ten. Law’s shooting flatlined at times, and the variety of things he did well weren’t enough to save this year’s Wildcats. But he kept the team in many a game with his tough (though streaky) shotmaking and consistent defense, allowing him to finish off his legacy as one of the most well-rounded Northwestern players of all time.
Given that, especially in conference play, he was the main focus of opponents on the offensive end while matching up with the best scorers defensively, the sheer amount of categories in which Law placed nationally is impressive. His defense held up well, as evidenced by the impressive rebounding percentage and solid block and steal numbers. Meanwhile, a turnover rate of 15.1 as one of the team’s primary ball handlers isn’t too shabby (Bryant McIntosh was at 19.9 last year).
Though he clearly forced a few too many jumpers from inside the arc (142!), Law’s shot selection overall was relatively effective. The forward did struggle with his shooting numbers overall, taking a significant step backward from beyond the arc while seeing his true shooting and effective field goal percentages take a hit as well.
Even when he was largely ineffective offensively at the beginning of Big Ten play, Law never let his defense suffer. You almost never saw him succumb to a mental lapse on the court, staying in front of just about every guard he was tasked with stopping and mixing it up in the post at times as well. Though he was not a dynamic ball handler by any stretch, he was rarely if ever outright bad with the rock in his hands, making more plays than just about any of his teammates in those scenarios.
And when he got hot, he carried the team. Against two tier one opponents in Indiana and Iowa, he buoyed Northwestern’s offense with 24 points in each game and nine combined assists. The Wildcats lost both contests in heartbreaking fashion, but each defeat was more of a function of Law’s teammates. He also closed the season with two strong performances against Ohio State and Purdue, seemingly catching his second wind as a long year drew to a close.
The problem with a streaky shooter is that they, definitionally, often come out on the wrong end of those streaks. His stretch of 18-79 shooting (22.7%) from the field in the month of January and the first game of February (the Penn State loss) started the Wildcats down a bad road in Big Ten play. Even though Law was ostensibly injured for much of that run after missing the January 13th game against Michigan with a leg injury, his scoring woes did a ton of damage to a team that was already too thin offensively and cannot be entirely forgiven.
Meanwhile, though he was solid with the ball overall, Law committed a few head-scratching turnovers, most notably late in the aforementioned Iowa game. His offensive struggles were in large part a function of the tremendous burden placed upon him on both sides of the ball, but the Wildcats still needed him to be more consistent than he was to succeed as a team, no matter how unfair those expectations turned out to be.
Law was earning some second round buzz after a quick start to the season, but his injuries and associated on-court problems have ended that notion. The 23-year-old just has too much wear and tear on him to truly be projectable in the NBA. But his long, rangy frame and 3&D skill set allow him to seemingly be a lock for the G-League (or just about any overseas league he wants to play for), and potentially a cup of coffee or two, à la Reggie Hearn, in the bigs. Law will definitely find a spot on a Summer League team this offseason, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from there.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Vic Law’s Northwestern career was a smashing success. The crown jewel of Chris Collins’ early recruiting efforts, Law battled through a season-ending labrum injury in his second season on campus to become a major contributor on the Tournament team of 2017. He even gave us one of the defining moments in Northwestern basketball history:
The bottom line is that Law accomplished what he set out to do at Northwestern, improving every year until he turned into a bonafide star and helping lead the team to the promised land. Some of the results this year weren’t what he and the rest of the Northwestern community, but now is the time to celebrate a player who will go down as one of the best to ever put on a purple jersey. Vic Law gave his heart and soul to Wildcat basketball, and that’s all you can really ask for.