Gani Lawal, out of Norcross High School and Georgia Tech, hopes the Hawks draft him next week. It could happen, too: Word is he’s one of five players the Hawks are considering selecting with the No. 24 overall pick.
Lawal was at Philips Arena today to work out. He said it was his 13th stop on the predraft workout circuit and he’s still not done. Lawal put his name on the early-entry list in 2009 but decided to return to Tech for his junior season.
“I needed to go back to school,” he said. “I don’t think it was a bad decision to go back. I felt confident, and I feel like it helped me. It may not jump out on the stat sheet. [But] my understanding of the game increased and improved and I’m glad I went back.”
When he got back his 2009 draft evaluation, in what areas did NBA personnel types tell him he needed to improve?
“Passing out of the post, playing through double teams, my anticipation on defense, my free throws, ballhandling, shooting,” he said.
Lawal looked smaller than I expected. Maybe that’s because I spend so much time around NBA dudes but, well, that’s what he’s trying to be, right? Draftexpress.com says Lawal’s wingspan measures 7 feet but when I saw him I didn’t immediately think, “There goes an NBA power forward.”
I’m not going to pretend I watched him play a whole lot this past season (I’m more of a Big East guy), so better to trust those who did. NBADraft.net says Lawal is a “strong, athletic and lengthy 6′9 forward (in shoes) . . .who has been able to use his physical tools to gain the advantage over whoever guards him” but notes “his faceup game and [outside] jumper will both need to improve if he wants to play real consistent minutes at the next level, as he won’t be able to use his body in the pro’s the same way he uses it in college.”
Lawal is among those prospects who left school early despite no guarantee they’d be selected in the first round and get a guaranteed deal. It seems there’s a new breed of guys who decide to get on the workout circuit and show what they can do.
“At this point you’ve got to have confidence in yourself,” Lawal said. “If you don’t, nobody else will. What somebody puts on a piece of paper two months from the draft my change drastically once the draft gets around.”
– The Hawks have said they’d like to get a wing with shooting ability or a center out of the draft, but L.D. said today: “Realistically, at that area [No.24] in the draft, you are looking at the best available player.” Already, it seems like player-development will be a focus for Atlanta going forward, so don’t be surprised if the Hawks draft a player at a position where they seem set and then bring that prospect along for the future.
– Jordan Crawford was supposed to work out for the Hawks on Wednesday but canceled for unknown reasons. I think the Hawks were disappointed not to get another close look at Crawford, who seems to fit their desire for a catch-and-shoot type wing player. Crawford blossomed into a productive player at Xavier after a lost season at Indiana.
– The prospects who’ve come through so far say the Hawks have been less focused on physical contact in the workout sessions and more concerned with seeing their skills.