After getting waived right before the start of the 2022-23 NBA regular season, former South Carolina standout A.J. Lawson is back in the Minnesota Timberwolves den.
Initially, he was one of the two players signed by the Wolves to a two-way contract, the other being Eric Paschall. However, with 6’10” center Luka Garza impressing the team’s front office, the Wolves took the opportunity to convert the towering center’s then-Exhibit 10 contracts to a two-way deal, which meant one for either Paschall or Lawson had to give way for Garza.
Unfortunately, Lawson was the one waived by the Wolves. A couple of days later, Paschall was also waived by the team, leaving a two-way opening in the Minneapolis-based squad’s roster.
Lawson hit the NBA trifecta when he was tapped to return to the Wolves’ den, almost a month after he was waived by the same team.
Now standing with a 10-8 slate on a five-game winning streak, how can Lawson’s addition contribute to the Wolves’ chances of a back-to-back playoffs appearance and eventually a shot in the finals? Moreover, did his acquisition make a change in Minnesota’s NBA 2022 odds?
Even before signing with the Wolves for the very first time in mid-July, Lawson has always been a beast performing in silence.
In his rookie year with South Carolina, Lawson was already in a league of his own, starting for the team and tallying 13.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals. In 29 games, he posted an outstanding 41.1 percent success rate from the field and 35.8 from beyond the arc. These numbers earned him a spot on the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team.
Lawson continued to explode in his sophomore year with the team. As a matter of fact, he actually initially entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft before deciding to resume his young career with the Gamecocks. In that season, he successfully tied his previous average, generating 13.4 points per game after 31 outings.
The 6-foot-6 guard also produced an impressive 41/33/72 shooting split for the team, although those were not enough to steer South Carolina back to the final four. On the other hand, in the same year, ESPN named Lawson as the 29th Best Prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Lawson had his collegiate career highs in his final year with the team. These include his 30-point performance against the Aggies, 8 assists against the Spartans, and 5 steals against the Tigers. Similar to the previous season, A.J. initially declared for the 2020 NBA Draft before eventually withdrawing from it and playing for the Gamecocks for the last time.
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 17, 2022
Despite playing a spectacular collegiate career, the Ontario native found himself in an unfamiliar situation after getting undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft. He had high hopes for his career, for sure.
Late July of the same year, the then-21-year-old guard agreed to suit up for Miami in the summer league. Not long after, he left the team to join Atlanta Hawks’ summer team.
After four games, Lawson averaged 4.5 points per game with 26.9 and 12.5 success rates from the field and beyond the arc, respectively. Lawson was then added to the 20-man training camp roster of the Hawks before eventually getting waived.
The former Gamecock star then signed with Atlanta’s G-League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks. After 26 games for College Park, A.J. generated an average of 11.8 points per game, backed by 6.3 rebounds while also dishing out 1.3 steals. The guard also posted an above-average 48.1 percent success rate from the field for the team.
00’s BACK! pic.twitter.com/ZjfnSnDxMV
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 16, 2022
In April this year, Lawson signed with the Guelph Nighthawks, a team participating in the young Canadian Elite Basketball League. He contributed 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and three assists per game for the team.
The 22-year-old guard joined the Dallas Mavericks for the 2022 NBA Summer League, generating 15.6 points while also chipping in six rebounds after five games. Lawson also shot 51.9% from the field for the team, better than his success rate from the previous season.
He was signed by the Wolves to a two-way contract in July. After getting waived, Lawson returned to College Park’s nest. In four games, the South Carolina alum averaged 22.3 points per game, while also adding 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in a 38.9-minute performance per game.
Lawson returned to the Wolves’ den in early November, signing a two-way deal with the team for the second time around this year. He first saw action in a battle against Orlando Magic. Coming in on the latter part of the game, Lawson was able to earn his first NBA bucket after just being on the floor for two minutes. In the same game, the rookie was also awarded the game ball, making his NBA debut a memorable one.
first NBA basket, first NBA game. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/bKUvGXP6SH
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 17, 2022
WHAT CAN HE BRING?
Lawson’s addition can add more depth to the already stacked Timberwolves roster. An athletic 6-foot-6 guard A.J. can definitely be a threat to the rest of the league. Say he is given more minutes on the court, Lawson can contribute to the Wolves’ developing offensive and defensive ends.
In addition, Chris Finch might want to give Lawson more time on the court to help the latter come up with outputs as impressive as he had in the G-League. After all, his G-League performance is one of the reasons why he is with the Wolves now.
A.J. can definitely contribute to providing the guns for Minnesota this season. A rookie, Lawson can learn from the veterans in the squad and eventually become a reliable guard for the team.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 16, 2022
With the opportunity to be back with the Wolves, Lawson has all the time to prove to Minnesota’s front office that he is worthy of the two-way deal and hopefully a full-time contract.
Anyway, he has so much potential and earning a full-time offer soon is possible.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to extend their five-game winning streak as they visit the Hornets on Friday at the Spectrum Center.