Observations on Chris Silva, A.J. Lawson, and Aric Holman

May 1, 2019

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch a couple of players on South Carolina, Chris Silva and A.J. Lawson play in a basketball game against Mississippi State that was played on January 8th, as I was able to see it with thanks to YouTube via College Sports.  I wanted to get a better feel for Silva and Lawson’s skills during a college basketball match, and this one went into overtime.  In addition, Aric Holman played really well as he shot the ball well and played solid defense for Mississippi State.  Here are my thoughts on how those players fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

South Carolina’s 6-9 senior big man, Chris Silva had a solid showing in his team’s overtime win over Mississippi State.  He rebounded and defended well in this game, and he showed off excellent shot blocking skills. Also, he displayed versatile scoring skills and an adequate ability to pass the basketball.  Silva showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense.  He was able to dribble in to make an open pull-up three to show off his range, and he also scored on a baseline mid-range jumper early in this contest.  He struggled more to make mid-range shots, but it’s an encouraging sign that Silva was able to show that he can make threes to show off his potential to develop into a stretch big at the next level.

He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Silva ran the floor to catch an interior pass, and he was able to use a pivot move to score around the basket, as he showed good balance to finish the play.  He also was able to score on a powerful dunk after getting the ball on a quick cut to the hoop, but there was one play where he tried to be too fancy in scoring at the rim, as he ended up getting his shot blocked on a reverse layup while attempting to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.

Silva may need to improve his ability to score in the post.  He did use a quick rip move to his right to get a score off the glass, although he showed off questionable footwork, and may have gotten away with shuffling his feet on that play.  He also missed two other times down low, as he missed on a right-handed jump hook after using a hop step move, and he also had his shot blocked another time.  Silva did not seem to have an advanced set of moves in his repertoire, and while he has good agility and foot speed, he will need to improve his footwork when looking to score on the block.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Silva is a good passer that sees the floor well, and he was able to dribble in to throw a couple of no-look passes to find teammates on the move to notch a pair of assists.  He excelled at finding the open man, as he passes well off the dribble and from the post, and he can find cutters to set up scores for his teammates.  Silva also would set numbers on and off-ball screens, as he was able to help a teammate get open, which allowed his team to score on a mid-range shot, but sometimes Silva can be turnover prone.  On a few plays, he threw hasty passes, as one was intercepted, and another sailed out of bounds.  He also can struggle to protect the basketball at times, and he had a ball poked away when trying to post up on one possession after getting an offensive rebound.

Silva also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He has good athleticism, motor, and instincts to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he would leap up to get plenty of rebounds.  He also will stay with the play to get rebounds. On one play, a ball initially went off his hands on an offensive rebounding attempt, but then he dove on the ground to get the board and then passed the ball to a teammate, as he showed good tenaciousness and hustle to help his team get the rebound.  He also will box out his man to get rebounds, as he can collect tough boards in traffic.

He also played fairly good defense in this game.  Silva did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he would often swat shots off of drives ferociously, and he can also direct balls to his teammates when doing so.  He has a good motor and recovery speed, and he possesses great timing that allows him to roam the paint and block many shots around the basket.  He also was able to heap on a loose ball that a teammate poked away to help his team get a steal, and Silva will also rotate on drives and ball handlers to contest shots to get stops.

He also managed to successfully draw a charge when an opponent drove in once, and he also contested a shot in the post to force a miss another time, but sometimes he can be late on his rotations, as he can get caught ball watching, which can cause him to allow scores on off-ball motion plays, as well as to commit fouls every once in a while.  He also tended to sag too far off his man, as he would over-help in the paint, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point baskets.  Also, at times he would struggle to stay in front of quicker players when defending off the dribble as well as in transition.

In general, Chris Silva is an intriguing prospect, as he is an athletic big man that has solid rebounding and defensive skills, and he has shown emerging scoring skills on offense.  He will need to continue to expand upon his skill set offensively, as well as improve his focus when guarding shooters out on the perimeter.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  He will still need to improve his skills on offense and he lacks ideal size to play inside, but Silva is a good defensive player that could project to be a rim protector at the next level, as his skill set could allow him to be an effective role player in the NBA.

South Carolina’s 6-6 freshman swingman A.J. Lawson is an athletic basketball player that can play multiple positions, and he also can run the point when needed to do so.  As of right now, he is an early entrant for the 2019 draft, and he is a candidate that could potentially end up being selected in the second round this year.  Lawson is an agile, tall playmaker that showed the capability to run the point, and he displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game.  He can swiftly bring the ball up as he handles it well, throws solid interior passes, and he also can consistently find the open man to set up scores due to possessing good court vision.  He can throw good passes off the dribble, and he would generally tend to make good reads on offense.  However, he was also turnover-prone.  He had some trouble catching passes, and he also threw a weak pass that ended up getting intercepted.

He also showed a decent ability to score off of drives as well as in transition.  Lawson was able to run off of a dribble handoff, as he drove left quickly to score on a floater, and he also scored on a high-flying dunk on the break another time.  However, he also can struggle to score in traffic. On one play, he went to his right to score on a drive, but he missed wildly off the glass, and he also had a shot blocked another time.

Lawson struggled to consistently knock down jumpers, and in this game, he missed all of his three-point shots.  But he was able to run off of a screen to his right, as he was able to make a quick mid-range jumper from the left elbow to get a nifty score late in this contest.  He also didn’t grab too many rebounds, but sometimes he would chase down balls to get defensive boards, and Lawson would tend to push the ball up the floor after hauling them in to help his team on the glass.

On the downside, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, Lawson is an active help defender that will play passing lanes, and he has fairly good footwork when guarding opponents out on the perimeter.  He was able to fight through a screen to stay with an opposing ball handler, as he managed to heap on a loose ball to get a steal on one play, which allowed him to score on a fast break dunk.  He also can stay with his opponents on dribble moves and crossovers, and he also will get back on defense.

However, he may tend to gamble too much, and he also can tend to have lapses defensively.  He would get beat on cuts to the hoop, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also can take the wrong angles when defending against screens, and he also can get caught on them, which can cause him to be late to rotate on shooters.  Other times, he may not always make the right rotations, and he also may struggle to guard quicker players on occasion.

In summary, A.J. Lawson is an intriguing prospect, as he is an athletic swingman that could also operate as a big point guard, but he will still need to refine his skills on both ends of the floor.  He will need to make more shots consistently and be a more disciplined defender.  Still, he is a player that may possess considerable upside, as he may have a similar game to current Los Angeles Lakers’ guard, Lance Stephenson.  While he may not be a lock to be drafted, his upside as a prospect could allow him to be selected in the mid to late second round range by an NBA team on draft day.

Other Notes:

I was primarily scouting Chris Silva and A.J. Lawson, as I had not watched South Carolina previously play in the 2018-19 season, but one player that really impressed me in this particular game was Mississippi State’s 6-10 senior big man, Aric Holman, who showed off solid shooting and defensive skills, and athletic ability in his team’s overtime loss on this day.

Aric Holman shot the ball very well, as he showed off impressive range and a solid ability to make spot-up threes from beyond the arc, and he also was able to make a couple of nice blocks to help shore up his team’s interior defense.  Holman also runs the floor well, and he was able to draw free throws on a dunk attempt in transition.  He also did a good job of deflecting passes, and he was active at challenging shots to force misses.  Holman will need to improve his low post game, as he did take a bad angle turnaround hook shot that missed. 

Overall, Holman had a terrific showing against South Carolina.  He showed off a very good ability to shoot and defend, and he was able to score 20 points, make 5 threes, as well as haul in 10 rebounds and block 5 shots in this contest.  Unfortunately, he had an inconsistent senior season, and he did not seem to play as well as expected when he was at the Portsmouth Invitational.  Once thought to be a potential first round prospect, his stock has plateaued as he may project to go anywhere from the mid-second round to winding undrafted.  Still, Holman is an intriguing prospect who has an interesting skill set, and his unique skill package could allow him to thrive in the NBA.  He is a player that seems to have a similar game to current Toronto Raptors’ big man, Chris Boucher, and in a favorable scenario, Holman could end up being a solid role player at the next level.