The Minnesota Timberwolves have had an open two-way roster spot since waiving Eric Paschall in October, which they are now using to sign A.J. Lawson, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are signing forward AJ Lawson on a two-way NBA contract, agents Jim Tanner and Elias Sbiet of Tandem told @TheAthletic @Stadium. Lawson has averaged 22.3 points through G League games for College Park, expects to join T’Wolves for Wednesday vs. Magic.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 15, 2022
Lawson was part of the competition for the Wolves final roster spot in training camp, and since being waived, has had a great start to the season in the G-League for College Park.
AJ Lawson (G-League):— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) November 15, 2022
- 22.3 PPG
- 6.5 RPG
- 2.5 APG
- 1.3 SPG
- 66.7% 2P% (24/36)
- 52.9% 3P% (9/17)
Lawson has been awesome in the G-League this year - glad to have him back in Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/Qhg4sRH4IY
What’s most notable to me about Lawson’s start to the year is the two-point shooting, as 66.7% is magnificent, even on a smaller sample size. Simply due to the Wolves roster construction, I would personally anticipate that he will be up with the big league team more often than Luka Garza, who is on the other two-way contract this season.
As for his role with the Wolves, based on the reporting from those closest to the team, it seems as though the attribute the coaching staff and front office value most from Lawson is his ability to handle the ball and create off the dribble.
A reminder that Lawson was with the Wolves on a 2-way in training camp, but the Wolves went with Luka Garza in that spot instead.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 15, 2022
Another reminder: Lawson is more the thin slasher type of player than he is a 3+ D shooter type, even if his numbers suggest he’s a shooting weapon. https://t.co/g6A3UmqNTl
Lawson impressed the Wolves coaches in training camp with his attitude and work ethic. Gives them a little more depth at point guard https://t.co/yZ2SZv22Gj— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) November 15, 2022
To me, that reads a lot like the role Jaylen Nowell played the past few seasons before emerging into a more consistent role in the rotation this season. The biggest difference between the two physically is that Lawson is roughly 6’7” (he measured 6’6.75 in shoes at the combine in 2021), compare to Nowell who is closer to 6’4”. It’s intriguing that the Wolves seemed to value this archetype of player over others for their final roster spot, but the tools seem to be there to be a valuable player as a slasher and scorer.
Where Lawson may be a bit limited is defensively, as he has a very short wingspan for a player his height (his wingspan is also 6’6.75), which makes him effectively guard like a smaller player.
Still, I’m sure the Wolves saw the way he drives violently to the rim and wanted to give him a longer look with Paschall now out of the picture. I will admit there is part of me that wonders if this is a Jaylen Nowell contingency plan with free agency looming, but it is probably somewhat foolish to think like that quite yet.
The Wolves have had good success with their final roster spots in recent seasons, with the development of players like Nowell, Naz Reid, and Jordan McLaughlin as highlights. They surely hope Lawson will be next in the line of unheralded players to work their way into being a real rotation-level player.