By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Lawal was the most important bigman in Sassari’s “crazy” run to winning the Legabasket, but also the Italian Cup, and he was rewarded with his transfer to Barcelona! Yet another representative of the school/trend of athletic centers who specialize in finishing plays facing the basket.
The truth is that his professional career didn’t start off with the best credentials. In college he played for Oakland for 3 years and for Wayne State in his last season. He was left out of the 2009 draft and began his journey from Qatar. Subsequently he played in secondary – in terms of strength – clubs in Spain and Italy and in the summer of 2013 he signed with Astana, moving to Kazakhstan. Last summer he was signed by Sassari and that season turned out to be the biggest milestone in his career!
The team from Sardinia won the 2 important domestic titles and Lawal signed a two-year contract with Barcelona. Yet another player who, at an advanced age – in terms of basketball – is going to make his debut in the Euroleague! In the championship he completed the season with 11.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 66% in two-point field goals. In 10 games in the Eurocup he tallied 10.5 points and 9.3 rebounds with 60% in two-point field goals.
Shane Lawal is a very active bigman, with characteristic speed in his hands and feet, long limbs and an inclination for blocks. His strongest element is rebounding, and in particular, offensive rebounding. This season he was probably the most affective player that we saw in all European competitions in offensive rebounds! In offense, he doesn’t create plays for himself, nor does he have any special moves with his back against the basket in the low post. But he can score after pick-and-rolls with strong finishes.
He’s good over the rim in offense and defense, and of course he can score after offensive rebounds. In the last 2 seasons he has shown improvement in his perception of the game. Something that’s been demonstrated from his vital positioning and the blocks he makes in defense, as well as some passes that he now consistently finds in the weak side of the defense.
The prediction: Role without a high level of risk
The ultimate star in Barcelona’s ‘5’ position is Ante Tomic. In all major showdowns in the ACB and the Euroleague he plays at least 25 minutes and this isn’t going to change this year. Xavi Pascual’s team has also signed Samardo Samuels. This means that Lawal will have to compete with the ex-Armani Milano player for the 2nd place in the rotation of the centers and quite possibly he will start third in the hierarchy. The reasons he was acquired and the role Barcelona has reserved for him are clear.
Pascual wants a defensive-minded center in ‘5’ so Tomic doesn’t get damaged and to increase Barcelona’s efficiency in defense and of course in rebounding. Last season the Catalans were betrayed by their soft frontline and the lack of athleticism of their bigmen. This is exactly why Shane Lawal was acquired.
To get rebounds, to play defense, to provide Barcelona with energy and athleticism, but also an extra choice offensively in pick-and-roll situations. Therefore, his signing doesn’t involve a lot of risk. But it’s up to him to grab the opportunity, to take advantage of every minute he has on the court and with a possible successful season for Barcelona, which would be combined with a good performance by him, earn a place at the top level of European basketball for years to come!