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2019 NBA Draft Profile: Vic Law

The forward has generated the most draft buzz of any prospect in recent NU history, but will it amount to anything?

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Draft night is finally here. It should be fitting that the culmination of drama and twitter eye emojis preludes a draft for the most dramatic and non-stop petty league in the nation.

On past draft nights, current NBA stars from the Big Ten have heard their names called with some frequency. From lottery picks like D’Angelo Russell and Victor Oladipo, to second round gems such as Draymond Green.

Vic Law’s hopes of joining that list of former Big Ten stars seem like a pipe dream at the moment. However, if the recent NBA finals have taught us anything, it is that organizations and coaches value undrafted talent and summer league stars. Fred VanVleet, a player who didn’t receive a call on draft night, ended up playing a crucial role in the Toronto Raptors first ever NBA title.

Law, a 6’7’’ forward, still possesses the tangibles of a modern prototypical 3-and-D wing. His length and athleticism make are the type that modern general managers salivate over.

Stats

Courtesy of KenPom.com

The most important stat that immediately stands out is Law’s overall usage: both his 2019-19 possession rate and shot rate increased significantly from his previous three years. This is no surprise as Law and fellow senior Dererk Pardon had to shoulder a greater load of the offense as returning starters. With this increase, in usage percentage also came a spike in points per game: Law finished the 2018-19 campaign averaging a career-best 15.0 points per game.

On a sour note, his shooting splits took a turn for the worse in his final year with the ‘Cats. The forward shot from downtown more than ever in his college career, and finished his senior season shooting a career-low clip of 33.5 percent from beyond-the-arc.

As a shooter, you’d like to see a year-to-year improvement that Law didn’t show while in Evanston. The hope is that he will prove more efficient as a spot-up shooter — a role he was never really able to assume during his NU career. Truth be told, Law won’t be expected to be a top-scoring option for any team he plays for like he was under Collins.

Strengths

  • Length — Length is one of the most sought out traits in the modern NBA. Law happens to already have a head start in that category. Law has the requisite wingspan and height to contest almost any shot while being able to get off most of his shots. He is a strong rebounder for a wing (6.4 per game) and averaged a block per contest.
  • Versatility — As a result of his length, Law can guard opposing players 1 through 4. Meaning, he can guard almost every player on the court, not counting a traditional 5. Along with his height and ability to alter most shots, he has exceptional footwork and speed, making him a relentless perimeter defender.
  • Mid-Range — A lost art in today’s professional leagues, Law excels in the least efficient zone on the modern day court. He is quick to get to his spots and uses his body to get good looks at the hoop from within the three-point line. Unfortunately, upon entering the league, he will be taught to take a few steps backward when chucking up shots. In the meantime, he can keep defenses honest with his mid-range stroke.

Weaknesses

  • Strength — Standing at 6’7, Law is an attractive forward option. Weighing in at 205 lbs, not so much. At the NBA level, Law will be forced to guard opposing guards and forwards at times. Most NBA forwards will be able to bully Law inside and eventually play him off the court.
  • Shooting — While shooting over 33 percent from three is by no means reprehensible, not growing as a shooter is. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Law was finally finding his stroke. Unfortunately, the consistency was never there. In order to catch the eyes of an NBA scout, Law is going to have to start knocking down shots at a higher rate or face the consequences.
  • Age — While basketball players progress and peak at different times, no one is rushing to draft a 23-year-old early on. Law has by no means hit a ceiling, but there simply just isn’t as much promise with a 23-year-old as there is with a one-and-done NBA prospect. Law’s injury history also poses legitimate concern.

Outlook

On their fourth and final pre-draft workout of the offseason, the Portland Trailblazers hosted Law along with five other projected second-round picks. Portland picks once in the second round at 25, and with the other five players likely going earlier, there is a slim possibility that Vic Law ends Northwestern’s NBA draft drought.

Regardless of the outcome, Law will certainly be on a summer league squad fighting his way for a chance at a spot on a NBA roster. There is a good chance that Law will bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League for the next couple of years.

Will Law be a Rookie of the Year candidate and a three-point marksman in the NBA a year from now? Probably not. Still, Law possesses the tools to impress NBA scouts and coaches enough to be invited to a summer league squad and potentially earn his way onto the 15-man roster.