Observing Moses Moody and A.J. Lawson

March 2nd, 2021

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the opportunity to watch Moses Moody and Arkansas play against A.J. Lawson and South Carolina in an SEC basketball game.  As South Carolina had not been playing well, I thought to myself that this might be the only time I get to watch A.J. Lawson play in a live college basketball game this season, so I decided to take the chance to watch him play.

Moses Moody shot the ball really well, and Arkansas pounced upon South Carolina early, as they ended up pummeling them to win by 28.  As for A.J. Lawson, he struggled for most of the game, but he later found his outside shot in the second half, but by then, it was too little, too late.  Here are my thoughts on how Moody and Lawson played, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Arkansas’ Moses Moody scored 28 points, as he made 4 threes, and he also hauled in 7 rebounds in his team’s blowout win over South Carolina.
(Photo:
Sean Rayford/Associated Press, via The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Arkansas’ 6-6 freshman guard, Moses Moody had a terrific showing in his team’s win over South Carolina.  He scored 28 points on 10 of 15 shooting, he made 4 threes, and he also had 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in this game.

Moody did a terrific job of knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He excelled at making open, spot-up threes off the catch.  Plus, he also was fantastic at scoring on mid-range jump shots.  He would often dribble up to score on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and he also can run off ball screens and also make them off the catch.  He also was able to score on a floater from just inside the right elbow. He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  On one play, he was able to drive hard to the hoop, and he was able to get fouled to get to the free throw line.

Also, Moody showed off fairly good playmaking skills in this game.  Moody is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he was able to get a pair of assists.  He throws solid, accurate interior passes, and he was able to throw a sharp outlet pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition.  He generally passed and handled the ball well, and he also did not commit a single turnover on offense. Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Moody would often leap up high to get plenty of defensive boards to help his team on the glass.

He also played solid defense in this game.  Moody did a good job of poking balls away to get steals for his team.  He also managed to catch a tipped pass to force another turnover.  Plus, he also would contest outside shots to force misses, and he also stayed in front of an opponent on a drive to get another stop for his team.  Sometimes though, he would be late to get down court, and he also lost track of a cutter once, which would lead his team to commit fouls around the basket.  Another time, he ended up committing a reach-in foul on a drive in transition on a separate play.

In general, Moses Moody put forth a magnificent performance in his team’s blowout win over South Carolina.  This was the strongest all-around game that I’ve seen him play to date, and Moody is a sharpshooter that did a good job of competing and making solid, team plays on both ends of the floor.  He is a talented prospect that could potentially get selected in the lottery as he had a statement game today, and he could be a very solid pick for an NBA team in the mid first round in the 2021 draft.

South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson scored 10 of his 18 points in the last 8 1/2 minutes of the game, as he started to shoot well when his team was down 25, but he started off 3 for 14 from the field and had just 8 points in the first 31 1/2 minutes in his team’s 28-point loss to Arkansas.
(Photo:
Sean Rayford/Associated Press, via Daily Journal)

South Carolina’s 6-6 junior swingman, A.J. Lawson had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He didn’t shoot the ball well for most of this game, but he then started to find his shooting stroke, especially from beyond the arc late in the second half.

Lawson did a good job of knocking down three-point shots from beyond the arc.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also was able to run off the ball to make a three-point shot from way out.  He struggled to connect from long distance early on when the game was close, but he was able to find his shooting stroke later on, although the game was out of hand by then.

He showed a satisfactory ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.  He would tend to go to his right, as he was able to score on a couple of pull-up jumpers from the mid-range.  He also showed that he can draw fouls when driving to the hoop to get to the free throw line.  On the other hand, he generally struggled to score off the dribble, especially when he would look to go all the way to the hoop.  He would tend to take tough, rushed shots when taking it to the rim, which would usually lead to misses.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Lawson shot the ball very often when he would get offensive touches, but sometimes he would look to move the basketball to find open shooters.  He didn’t seem to look to pass enough, though.  He did not pick up an assist in this game, but he did not turn the ball over, either.

Though Lawson did not grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to leap up to get several defensive boards when he was on the floor.  He also played decent defense.  Lawson was able to contest a three-point shot to force a miss.  He also was able to actively stay in front of an opposing ball handler on drives to the hoop, and he was able to force his man to pass the basketball.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble.  On one play, he bit on a pump fake to allow his opponent to score on a mid-range jumper.  On another, he gave up too much space as he had a lot of trouble defending his man on a step back move, and he ended up allowing another mid-range basket.

Overall, A.J. Lawson was inconsistent as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he provided his trademark streaky shooting in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  Over the years, he’s been a very athletic swingman that has shown flashes of his considerable potential, but he’s consistently been inconsistent on both ends of the floor, which has been frustrating to watch.  Still, it seems that he has progressed as an outside shooter, and it seems that at the NBA level, he could project to be an athletic, spot-up shooter that can also score on fast breaks. 

He will still need to take smarter shots, look to make more team plays, and he will need to be a more focused defender when he is on the court, but there is no doubt that the talent is there.  Still, while Lawson has been a very inconsistent player over the years, he’s a very athletic swingman that is also a talented prospect.  With that in mind, he could end up being a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid to late second round range of the upcoming draft.  In a favorable scenario, he could end up being a solid role player similar to Houston Rockets’ swingman, Danuel House in the NBA.

Arkansas’ 6-7 senior forward, Justin Smith played very well in his team’s double-digit win over South Carolina.  He is an athletic, high-motor player that excelled as an inside scorer, and he played well on both ends of the court to help his team get the victory.

Smith did a good job of scoring in the post.  He used a quick spin move to score once, and he also managed to score on a strong, turnaround jumper another time.  Plus, he also would find ways to get fouled by his defenders. Plus, he also excelled at scoring off the dribble.  He can finish plays using either hand as he would often score on straight-line drives, and he also can absorb the contact to get extra free throws after scoring the basketball. 

Also, he excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Smith would run the floor to score on powerful dunks in transition, and he also caught a lob pass to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk on the break.  However, there was one play where he missed a dunk by trying to throw it down too hard off of a backdoor cut.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Smith is an unselfish player that can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he also can pass out of the post to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to handle the ball when pressured in the post, as it led to a turnover once.

Smith did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Smith was able to intercept an entry pass to get a steal.  He also contested a shot in the post to force a miss.  However, there was another time where he got outmuscled when defending on a high post drive to allow a score once.

In summary, Justin Smith is a very athletic, energetic combination forward that primarily excelled as an inside scorer in this game, and he consistently made solid plays to help his team get a double-digit win over South Carolina.  He will still need to extend his shooting range and improve his outside shot to be able to adjust to the NBA more quickly over time.  Currently, he has not drawn much draft buzz, and he could likely end up going undrafted this year.  Still, if he can add more range and improve his outside shot, if things break his way, Smith could end up being an effective role player similar to former New York Knicks’ forward, Lance Thomas in the NBA.

Arkansas’ junior guard, J.D. Notae played very well off the bench to help his team get the win over Arkansas.  He scored 21 points, made 3 three-pointers, and he also collected 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals in this game. Notae showed a solid ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team.  He would make quick, open threes off the catch, and he especially showed a knack for making corner threes.  He also did a good job of scoring on mid-range jumpers, and he also used a behind-the-back crossover move to score on a step-back mid-range jumper in this game.

He also excelled at scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score on strong drives to the hoop often, and Notae can finish plays using either hand.  He also was able to throw down a dunk on a quick drive in transition.  Plus, he also can draw fouls when driving to the hoop.

Also, he displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Notae is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he was able to drive and kick a ball out to a shooter to notch an assist.  He did a good job of finding shooters to setup scores for them.  He did commit one turnover, as he was handling the ball, but stepped out of bounds once. Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Notae would leap up to get defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court afterwards.

He also played solid defense in this game.  Notae did an excellent job of intercepting passes to get steals, and he is a speedy, athletic guard that can cover a lot of ground to do so to force his opponents to commit a wealth of turnovers.  However, sometimes he would get outmuscled on drives to the hoop, which would occasionally lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, J.D. Notae is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can put the ball in the hoop, and he specializes in scoring the basketball.  He can be streaky with his jump shot, but he can score in bunches.  He will still need to improve his playmaking skills, and he will likely need to show that he can effectively run the point when necessary.  Most likely, he will need another year in school to hone his game, but if he can put together a solid senior season, he could end up being a second round pick in 2022.

Arkansas’ junior guard, Desi Sills had a strong showing in his team’s win over South Carolina.  He did a terrific job of knocking down three-pointers to provide excellent floor spacing for his team on offense, and he scored 15 points by making five three-pointers off the bench.

He also was able to throw an accurate lob pass to a teammate to notch an assist.  However, he can sometimes be a bit reckless with his decision making on offense, as he tried to pass the ball from the ground once, and he also committed a charging foul another time, which also led him to commit a couple of a turnovers.

Overall, Desi Sills shot the ball very well, especially from downtown.  He will need to improve in the other areas of the game, but he is a shooter that can knock down jump shots.  He will most likely need to stay in school for another season, but if he can put together a solid senior season, he could increase his odds to make it to the NBA.

Arkansas’ 7-3 sophomore center, Connor Vanover played very well early on in his team’s win over South Carolina.  He blocked three shots early to start the game, and he also showed that he can space the floor.  He didn’t have as strong of a stat line to end the game, but he made enough impactful plays to help his team get a double-digit victory.

Vanover showed the ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He was able to make an open corner three off the catch, and the 7-3 center can spot up to knock down three-point shots.  However, he missed on two other three-point attempts, and he was unable to score on a mid-range shot or on a post-up opportunity other times.

He also passed the ball well.  Vanover would swing the ball to find open shooters to notch assists.  He also was able to find a cutter from the post to set up a scoring chance for his teammate.  On the other hand, he also threw a bad outlet pass that led to a team turnover on a separate possession. Also, Vanover did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was quite active on the glass.

He also played satisfactory defense.  Vanover is a solid interior defender that would often block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also contested a shot in the post to force a miss another time.  However, he struggled more to guard shooters when defending out on the perimeter.  He would tend to sag too far off of shooters, which would cause him to allow them to score on mid-range jump shots.  He also fouled an opponent on a mid-range shot another time.  On a separate play, he ended up getting outmuscled when defending in the post to allow a basket.

Overall, Connor Vanover started off playing well, and he struggled more as the game wore on, but he was able to make enough of an impact to help his team get the win.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games, and he will need to improve his ability to guard players out on the perimeter.  Still, he is a mobile center that can shoot and block shots, he has an intriguing skill set that could enable him to be a prospect worth keeping tabs on in the future.

South Carolina’s 6-5 junior guard, Keyshawn Bryant didn’t have a great game in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He started off really cold, as he made just 1 of 10 shots from the field in the first half.  He played much better in the second half, as he started scoring on aggressive moves to the hoop, and he also rebounded and defended well, but he still struggled with his outside shot and with his free throw shooting in this match. At the end of this game, he scored 13 points, and he also had 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, but he also made just 5 of 15 shots from the field, he only made 3 of his 9 free throws when he was at the foul line, and he did not even make a single three-point shot.

Bryant generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he also would go hard to the hoop to draw free throws off of cuts, tip-ins, and in transition.  However, he didn’t make many of his free throws, and sometimes he would rush his shots, which would lead to misses when he wouldn’t get foul calls.

He also did a satisfactory job of scoring off the dribble.  Bryant drove in from the baseline to score on a strong, reverse layup.  He also used a spin move to score on a strong drive another time, as he has a quick first step, and can outmuscle his opponents.  However, he would sometimes take tough, rushed shots, as he would occasionally miss shots wildly in traffic.

Also, Bryant was able to score on a smooth pull-up jumper from the mid-range.  However, he was not able to consistently score on mid-range jumpers, and he also missed on both of his three-point attempts that he hoisted up from beyond the arc.

He also displayed average at best playmaking skills.  Bryant didn’t seem to pass the ball very often, and he did not collect a single assist in this game.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to handle the ball when pressured, and he lost a ball out of bounds once.  He also threw an inaccurate pass that also ended up going out of bounds. Plus, Bryant did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  In this game, he was able to leap up to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

He also played fairly good defense.  Bryant showed that he can jump passes to get steals, and he also was able to force a tie-up when defending in the post to force another turnover.  He also would block shots to help his team protect the paint.  However, there was one time where he was called for committing a blocking foul on a drive another time.

Overall, Keyshawn Bryant is a very athletic swingman that can slash to the hoop to score the basketball, and he also is a fairly good rebounder and defender.   On the other hand, he will really need to improve his jump shot and free throw shooting, and he will need to improve his playmaking skills.  He will likely need to stay in school another year to hone his game.  If he can put together a solid senior season next year, he could end up being a potential second round pick in 2022.

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