From: Las Vegas
A.J. Lawson was the standout surprise of the Dallas Mavericks Summer League team. With all eyes focused on second-round draft pick Jaden Hardy coming into the summer tournament, Lawson not so quietly put together game-after-game of solid—at times eye-popping—play.
For Lawson, though, his on-court performance comes as no surprise. It is the result of all the hard work he put into developing his game over the years. That is what allowed him to seize the opportunity the Mavericks gave in Las Vegas. He left everything on the floor in the hopes of landing a professional contract.
“The goal for me is to be better than I was last year,” Lawson told me. “Be one percent better each day. That’s what I always focus on, being a better me. The goal for me is to get a deal with an NBA team. That’s always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I always wanted to be an NBA player.”
In Dallas’ opening matchup against the Chicago Bulls, Lawson certainly showed that he has the skill set to compete at the next level. He poured in 28 points on 10-16 shooting, including 6-11 from deep. He also grabbed five rebounds and had an assist. It was quite a debut.
“I think, just like anybody, if you get a little repetition at the NBA level or even the G League level, the game slows down for you,” Mavericks coach Greg St. Jean said of Lawson after his first game. “I saw him with a nice level of patience tonight. He wasn’t hunting shots; they just came in the rhythm of what was going on. He’s going to have a great week for us, and he is going to have a bright future.”
He followed up his debut performance with another gem. Against the Utah Jazz, he scored 15 points on 6-11 shooting. He also notched his first-ever double-double in Summer League, pulling down 12 rebounds. Game after game, Lawson played calm and collected basketball, showing a high level of comfort on the floor.
He finished his five-game run with the Mavericks in Las Vegas averaging 15.6 points on 51.9 percent shooting overall and 50 percent on his three-point attempts. He also averaged six rebounds and 1.4 assists. His 15.6 points per game was the best mark on the team.
Lawson’s Summer League averages either match or surpass his numbers in the G League last season. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists with the College Park Skyhawks. Lawson credits his improvement from the G League to now with the time he’s spent working on his game since the season ended.
“Especially this summer, I worked a lot on changing speed, changing pace,” Lawson says. “I’m just in the lab, in the gym with my trainer and my coaches trying to get better working on that, playing with tempo. I feel like I’m getting better and I’m doing just that.
“For my game itself, I’m just a big guard. I can play 1-2-3, sometimes even 4. I can defend 1 through 4 for sure. That’s just me. I’m a versatile player. I feel like it’s always been that way my whole life since high school when I had my growth spurt.”