Not that I’m smart or anything — we all know better than that — but I suggested almost two months ago that Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors hadn’t yet formed a mesh. Indeed, I typed as much (at 9:25 p.m., if you care to check) in a live chat off the Tech-North Carolina game last week: “Favors looks so much more comfortable when Lawal’s not in.”
Being all too human, I’m always encouraged when someone happens to agree with me. (Which almost never happens.) Here, from an unnamed opposing coach as told to SI.com’s Seth Davis, is an outsider’s look at Tech:
The biggest problem with Georgia Tech is that the Jackets invent turnovers. They play faster than they need to play at times, and that’s why they turn it over. They’re playing [Gani] Lawal and [Derrick] Favors, who are two mountains masquerading as men, but there’s not a lot of room when you play those two guys because they’re both low post players. They’re almost better when they play [Zachery] Peacock because now they have a four who opens them up a little bit. [Iman] Shumpert is very tough, but it looks to me like he’s trying to be in the NBA right now. [Mfon] Udofia doesn’t understand at this point how to play the point guard position. They’re so aggressive that they put you on the line. Lawal is an unbelievable rebounder but he’s a terrible passer out of double teams. Favors is a lottery pick but he’s unskilled labor right now. He’s a lot like that kid from Texas A&M, DeAndre Jordan — explosive, long and quick, but still learning how to play. They don’t have a guy that just knows how to get him the ball.
I wouldn’t disagree with much of that. (I’m not sure Lawal is so much a “terrible” passer as an unwilling one.) But the part about Peacock being a better complement is something I’ve likewise thought for a while now. If the game’s on the line, Peacock needs to be on the court.
Every team needs a post player, but not many teams in the history of basketball have been able to accommodate two. Wilt Chamblerlain and Nate Thurmond were a bad match; David Robinson and Tim Duncan were better. Al Horford and Joakim Noah were a complementary pair, but neither of those arrived as a McDonald’s All-American. Lawal and Favors were both accustomed to being the go-to guy, and teams really can’t have two go-to guys, can they? (Especially if they play the same position.)
Regarding the draft stock of Tech’s big men: The good folks at NBAdraft.net now have Favors going No. 8 in the June draft — that’s the lowest I can recall seeing him — and Lawal 15th, which is one pick out of the lottery.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about this week’s bracket projection: Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has the Jackets a No. 10 seed now, down from No. 6 two weeks ago and No. 9 last week. That’s not exactly headed in the right direction, but it’s not yet in the danger zone. (The danger zone is Nos. 11 or 12.) I say again: Bid-wise, Tech’s OK.