Evaluating Anthony Edwards and A.J. Lawson

February 12th, 2020

by Alan Lu

This time around, I decided to see Anthony Edwards play against A.J. Lawson in an SEC college basketball game that took place today between Georgia and South Carolina. South Carolina jumped on Georgia early, as they built a big lead and never looked back to get a decisive victory, but both Lawson and Edwards had solid performances in this game. Here are my thoughts on how they fared as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Georgia's freshman guard, Anthony Edwards had a fairly good showing in his team's lopsided loss to South Carolina.   (Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA Sports, via Dawg Nation.)
Georgia’s freshman guard, Anthony Edwards had a fairly good showing in his team’s lopsided loss to South Carolina. (Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA Sports, via Dawg Nation.)

Georgia’s freshman guard, Anthony Edwards had a fairly good showing in his team’s blowout loss to South Carolina. He started off slowly, but he then had a strong second half, as he excelled as a scorer and playmaker when he was on the floor.

He did a very good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket. Edwards can quickly get to the rim, as he would regularly get past his opponents, and he was able to split a double team once to score on a layup. He also managed to score on an acrobatic, reverse flip layup on a drive on the break due to possessing very good strength, agility, and body control, as he also changes directions well. Plus, he also did a tremendous job of barreling his way to the basket to draw and make many free throws in this game. Edwards also appeared to score on a thunderous dunk off of a drive another time, but that was waved off due to a teammate’s illegal screen.

On the downside, he struggled more to make jumpers on a consistent basis. On one good play, Edwards used a quick first step and really elevated to score on a quick, pull-up, mid-range jumper. On the downside, he missed all of his three-point shots that he hoisted up from beyond the arc, as this would hurt his shooting percentages in this game.

Also, Edwards displayed decent playmaking skills. He is a good passer off the dribble, as he can quickly get into the lane, and he can throw nice drop off passes and can kick balls out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them. On the downside, his teammates often would miss shots, so Edwards often was not able to pick up assists despite making good reads and passes to them. He also was called for a charging foul on an aggressive drive to the hoop once, as that turned out to be his lone turnover of the game.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to leap up to get a couple of defensive boards when he was on the court.

He will need to improve his focus on the defensive, though. For the positives, Edwards is an athletic combo guard that can defend well when he is dialed in. He was able to block a shot off of a drive due to possessing very good athleticism, leaping ability and timing, and he also contested a three to force a miss. On the downside, he would tend to be too unfocused on defense. Edwards would tend to be caught ball watching, as he would wander off before getting beat on cuts to allow scores. There was another play where he didn’t hustle or run back hard enough on defense, as his teammate ended up rotating to foul an opponent on the break to allow the score and an extra free throw. Edwards also had a tendency to sag too far off his man, as he would be late to close out on shooters, which would allow them to score on three-point shots.

In general, Anthony Edwards played well in his team’s loss to South Carolina, and he especially excelled in the second half even when his team was nowhere close to being able to win this game. He is a very athletic player that can score and facilitate to help his team on offense, but he will need to improve his defense and make more long-range shots consistently. Right now, he is considered to be the frontrunner to be the top pick of the 2020 draft, and he is a talented player that has the potential to be an All-Star at the next level.

South Carolina's sophomore swingman, A.J. Lawson had a stellar showing in his team's double-digit victory over Georgia. (Photo: USA Today, via Mitchell Brown's article from WACH Fox 57.)
South Carolina’s sophomore swingman, A.J. Lawson had a stellar showing in his team’s double-digit victory over Georgia. (Photo: USA Today, via Mitchell Brown’s article from WACH Fox 57 at https://wach.com/sports/usc-gamecocks/south-carolina-mens-hoops-crushes-georgia-for-second-straight-win)

South Carolina’s sophomore swingman, A.J. Lawson played very well in his team’s win over Georgia. He had a solid all-around game, as he especially excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he was able to do a little bit of everything to help his team get the victory.

Lawson excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores. Early on, he made smart backdoor cuts to the hoop, as he was able to get the ball to dribble in to score on a thunderous high-flying dunk, and he also later scored on a quick layup another time. Plus, he also excelled as a scorer on drives as well as in transition, as he has a good first step off the dribble that can allow him to quickly get to the rim. He managed to score on a runner, as well as on a speedy drive in transition, and he also showed a knack to draw free throws. He did miss once on a drive in transition as he went in a little out of control that time, but he generally excelled at getting scores in the paint.

Plus, he also did a good job of making three-point shots to provide floor spacing for his team. Lawson would make open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also managed to draw three free throws after taking another three-point shot another time. He did throw up an airball from beyond the arc late in this contest, but Lawson generally showed a good ability to make long-range jumpers, as he made them efficiently in this game.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Lawson is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man, and he would get open shooters the basketball to notch assists. He also generally handled the ball well, and he did a good job of not turning the ball over on offense.

Plus, he also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Lawson was able to leap up to get a handful of defensive boards, and he would tend to push the ball up the floor afterwards.

Defensively, Lawson looked to be about average. For the positives, he was able to run in to tie up an opponent to get a steal, and he also did a good job of denying his opponent the basketball early on. He also managed to contest a three-point shot to force a miss. However, he mostly had trouble guarding Edwards later in the game, as he would tend to get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In summary, Lawson played very well, and he is a very athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is also an active help defender that can get steals and stops for his team. Right now, he will need to improve his on-ball defense, as he will need to show that he can guard upper-echelon players on a consistent basis. Right now, he may be a worthwhile pick for an NBA team anywhere in the mid first to the second round range, and he could end up being a solid player at the next level.

Other Notes:

South Carolina’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Keyshawn Bryant had a strong showing in his team’s win over Georgia. He is a very athletic basketball player that excelled at scoring on strong scores off the dribble, as he was able to use a spin move to score on a turnaround jumper, he also made a long two, and he also drove in to score on a high-flying dunk on the break. He also played good defense, as he was able to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate, and he also would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections.

On the downside, he did not make a three-point shot, and he also was called for a traveling violation on a high post drive, as he had forgot to dribble on one play. Overall, he played very well to help get his team the victory. He will need to improve his long-range shooting to improve his ability to space the floor and also improve his playmaking skills to cut down on turnovers that he may commit in games. Right now, he may be a long-term prospect to watch in the future, and he could potentially be a second round pick in the 2021 draft.

South Carolina’s 6-4 redshirt freshman guard, Jermaine Couisnard played very well in his team’s win over Georgia. He excelled at making open spot-up threes off the catch, and he also showed an adequate ability to garner scores off the dribble. He also passed and defended well, as he excelled at throwing passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates, and he would play passing lanes to get steals and deflections. Plus, he would also look to actively contest shots.

On the downside, he struggled to score in traffic when looking to score off the dribble, and he was inaccurate with a couple of his passes, which would lead to turnovers. Overall, Couisnard is a fairly athletic, skilled combo guard that can do a little bit of everything, but he will need to improve his shooting percentages on the season and cut down on the number of turnovers he may make in games. Right now, he is an interesting prospect to watch for the 2021 draft, as he may have the skills to end up being an effective role player at the next level.

Georgia’s 6-4 junior guard, Jordan Harris also played well in his team’s loss to South Carolina. He excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, and he also played fairly good defense. He would frequently throw down high-flying dunks off of cuts and drives to the basket, and he also would jump passes to get steals and deflections for his team.   Harris is a very athletic, energetic player that can make hustle plays, and while he will need to improve his jump shot and playmaking skills, his ability to score and defend could allow him to make an NBA team’s summer league roster later this year.

South Carolina’s 6-11, senior big man, Maik Kotsar from Estonia had a fairly good game in his team’s win over Georgia. He showed off a variety of scoring skills, as he can score on hustle plays, and he also flashed the ability to score on patient drives to the basket. He struggled to score in traffic when taking it to the rim, but Kotsar did a good job of making mid-range jumpers. He also passed the ball well, as he also was able to find a cutter to notch an assist.  

Plus, he also played good defense. He excelled at blocking and altering shots off of drives to protect the paint, and he also poked a ball away to get a steal. On the downside, he didn’t grab as many rebounds as he should have.   Overall, Kotsar is a smart, skilled player that can shoot the basketball, and he also showed good positioning to contest and block shots. While he may only be an average athlete, he showed a good feel for the game, as that could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA.

South Carolina’s 6-7 freshman forward, Jalyn McCreary excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder to help his team get the win over Georgia. He would frequently crash the offensive glass to score on put backs, and he also was able to score on a tip slam late in this game. He also showed a decent ability to score in the post. He also was able to find a cutter from the high post to demonstrate his passing ability. He also rebounded the basketball.

Overall, McCreary is an athletic, undersized big man that can make plenty of hustle plays, but he will need to improve his jump shot and extend his shooting range, as well as his playmaking skills. Right now, it’s uncertain if he will find a way to make it to the NBA, but he at least could end up being a good college basketball player, as he has been thriving in his role on his team this season.

Georgia’s junior forward, Rayshaun Hammonds struggled in his team’s loss to South Carolina.  He had trouble making shots consistently, and he had trouble guarding his man or making timely rotations on the defensive end, and he also struggled to protect or handle the basketball. 

On the bright side, he did show a decent ability to score in the post as well as off the dribble.  However, he missed on too many jumpers, and he would struggle to score in traffic when he wouldn’t get foul calls, and he didn’t take enough shots in general.  Overall, Hammonds may be a borderline second round candidate for the 2020 draft, but he could use another year in school to hone his game, as he will need to improve his jump shot, his handles, and his on-ball defense to increase his odds to make it and to succeed at the next level.