Exemptions Honorable Mention

Acie Law: Honorable Mention (NBA)

ACIE LAW – CAPTAIN CLUTCH #1.0 

vs.

DEREK JETER – CAPTAIN CLUTCH #2.0

jeter
Acie Law may have been known as Captain Clutch in college, but Derek Jeter (seen here celebrating a game-winning hit in his last career at bat in Yankee Stadium) has usurped the title.

Synopsis: If NBA games were only five minutes long, Acie Law may have been an all-time great. Well, they’re not, so he’s not. As a senior at Texas A&M, Law was named 1st Team All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award as the best point guard in the country after averaging 18 points and five assists per game. Despite being a clutch performer in college who elevated his game at the most critical moments, Law never elevated beyond backup duties in the NBA. During his four-year NBA career, he averaged less than four points and two assists per game while playing for five different teams. As previously established, any player taken after the first ten overall picks is exempt from being declared a Top 10 Bust. But for this restriction, Law would have been a prime candidate. Instead, he earned an Honorable Mention and an eponymous exemption.


THE ACIE LAW

As discussed in my previous two posts, expected production decreases significantly for players drafted outside of the first ten overall picks. Even though it seems that the depth of the NBA draft should extend beyond ten picks, it generally doesn’t. Granted, it’s possible to find a superstar with a later pick (e.g. Kobe Bryant or Karl Malone at #13, John Stockton at #16); however, it’s much more likely for a team to select a completely unproductive player. For me, it may be reasonable to refer to such an unproductive pick as a bust, just not an all-time bust. As a result, I have established the following criterion:

Criterion #1:  To qualify as a potential Top 10 NBA Draft Bust, a player must have been selected as one of the first ten overall picks. 

Even though this restriction resulted from a statistical evaluation of draft picks, I’m OK if you prefer to believe that it was based on convenience. After all, there’s a nice symmetry to have Top 10 Busts come from top ten overall picks. Given this criterion, certain draft picks may feel fortunate to have been drafted 11th or later just to avoid this distinction. One such pick may be Acie Law, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 11th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Coming out of Texas A&M, Law had done exactly what a top prospect should. He was a 4-year player who got better every year. More importantly, he helped his team get better every year. Coming off the bench at the beginning of his freshman year, Law finished the season starting at point guard for a team that finished the year 0-16 in the Big 12 and 7-21 overall. As a sophomore, Law was named as Big 12 Honorable Mention and guided the team to a 21-10 record (8-8 in the Big 12) and a quarterfinals appearance in the NIT. In his junior year, he was named 1st Team All-Big 12 and led A&M to a 22-9 record (10-6 in the Big 12) and into the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. The team’s appearance in the Big Dance was its first in almost 20 years. As a senior, Law was named 1st Team All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award as the best point guard in college. That year, the Aggies finished 27-7 overall (13-3 in the Big 12) and made the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 27 years.

The following table highlights Law’s progression during his time in college.

ACIE LAW – COLLEGE STATS

  Field Goal % Per Game Averages
Season Games 2P 3P Rebounds Assists Steals

Points

2003-04

27 44.8% 21.6% 2.1 3.9 1.3 7.5
2004-05 31 53.1% 38.4% 3.5 4.9 1.1

12.0

2005-06

30 49.6% 33.0% 3.4 4.0 1.7 16.1
2006-07 34 51.0% 45.8% 3.3 5.0 1.1

18.1

Career

122 50.2% 35.7% 3.1 4.5 1.3

13.7

 

The only thing missing from Law’s college career might have been a flair for the dramatic. Oh, did I forget the part where he was called “Captain Clutch” while at A&M. Law earned the well-deserved nickname over time (and sometimes in overtime), but the spark that got the legend started was a 3-point buzzer-beater against rival and 7th-ranked Texas during his junior year.

Acie Law
Taking the inbound pass with 3.6 seconds on the clock, Law dribbled twice before hitting this shot to win the game 46-43. Go ahead and take a look, it’s worth it.

In the first round of the NCAA tournament at the end of that season, Law had 23 points (including 14 in the final eight minutes) to help the 12th-seeded Aggies upset the 5th-seeded Syracuse Orange. In A&M’s 2nd round game against 4th-seeded LSU, Law hit a potential game-winning jumper to put A&M up 57-55 with only 18 seconds left. Unfortunately, LSU’s Darrell Mitchell hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to end the Aggies’ season. Regardless, the legend surrounding Law’s ability to perform in the clutch continue to build.

In Law’s senior season, A&M’s beat Texas handily by the score of 100-82 in College Station, but the rematch in Austin became an instant ESPN Classic. Even though Texas squeaked out with a 98-96 2OT win, Law added more clips to his personal highlight reel. To start, he hit a 3-point buzzer-beater over Kevin Durant at the end of regulation to take the game into overtime. Then, with 26 seconds left in OT, he tied the game again with another 3-pointer, which led to double overtime. With the Aggies down by three at the end of 2OT, Law was fouled and put on the line for two shots with 1.4 seconds to go. After making the first free throw, Law intentionally missed the second. Aggie teammate Chinemelu Elonu surprisingly secured the rebound, but more surprisingly missed the putback despite getting a clean look at the basket.

According to a scouting report from early February 2007, Law had personally outscored A&M’s opponents over the final five minutes of games by a total of 7.3 to 7.1 points. Individually outscoring an opponent for a stretch of time during one game is not unusual; however, doing it over a 23-game stretch (especially during crunch time) is unfathomable. Up to that point of the season, Law had scored 40% of his points during the most important 12.5% of the game. Jerseys get put up in rafters for players like that. By the way, his #1 jersey is the only one honored as such in Texas A&M history.

As a #3 seed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, A&M sailed through the first round before meeting up against 6th-seeded Louisville. In that 2nd round game, Law continued to show an ability to handle pressure situations by hitting six crucial free throws in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. In the next game against #2-seed Memphis, he showed that he was human and missed a makeable (albeit contested) layup with less than an minute to go that could have put the Aggies up by three. In the end, the bucket was the difference as A&M lost out on its first trip to the Elite Eight by one point. Despite the disappointing end to his college career, Law still earned the title of Captain Clutch.

Given everything Law accomplished from the beginning to the end of his college career, he attracted enough interest to become a lottery pick. Unfortunately, Law didn’t deliver as might be expected from a lottery pick.

ACIE LAW – NBA STATS
    Field Goal % Per Game Averages
Season Team Games 2P 3P Rebounds Assists Steals

Points

2007-08

ATL 56 43.3% 20.6% 1.0 2.0 0.5 4.2
2008-09 ATL 55 39.1% 31.0% 1.1 1.6 0.2

2.9

2009-10

GSW 5 72.7% 33.3% 0.4 1.4 1.2 6.2
2009-10 CHA 9 33.3% 0.0% 0.1 0.3 0.1

1.8

2009-10

CHI 12 51.5% 33.3% 1.2 1.3 0.3 5.5
TOT 26 50.8% 31.3% 0.7 1.0 0.4

4.3

2010-11

MEM 11 23.1% 0.0% 1.0 1.3 0.4 1.1
2010-11 GSW 40 52.6% 20.0% 1.3 1.8 0.7

5.1

TOT 51 50.5% 16.7% 1.2 1.6 0.6 4.2
Career   188 45.2% 23.5% 1.0 1.6 0.4

3.9

 

Throughout his short NBA career, Law averaged around 13 minutes a game coming off the bench behind players like Mike Bibby, Steph Curry, and Mike Conley. As a poor shooter from behind the arc (23.5% for his career), he didn’t earn the right to stay on the floor during crunch time despite his prior accomplishments. Playing for five different teams during his four years in the NBA, Law arguably had an excuse for not being able to find a grove, but his averages of less than 4 points and 2 assists per game were inexcusable for the former 1st Team All-American and 11th overall draft pick. As such, it’s hard not to call him an NBA bust.

Professionally, Law found success in Greece and helped guide his team to two Euroleague titles and one Greek championship title during an 18-month span.

ACIE LAW – EUROLEAGUE
Acie Law stumble
Despite his stumbles along the way,

 

Acie Law champion
Law proved to have what it takes to be a champion.
                                                                  ACIE LAW – EUROLEAGUE STATS
    Field Goal % Per Game Averages
Season Team Games 2P 3P Rebounds Assists Steals

Points

 2011-12

Partizan 9 45.0% 28.6% 2.1 3.4 1.2 5.5
 2011-12 Olympiacos 12 44.4% 23.1% 1.4 2.1 0.8

12.7

Total 21 44.8% 26.5% 1.7 2.7 1.0

8.6

 2012-13

Olympiacos Piraeus 30 46.2% 41.3% 2.1 1.9 0.4 8.1
 2013-14 Olympiacos Piraeus 9 42.1% 12.5% 1.1 2.3 0.9

3.4

Career

  60 45.3% 33.0% 1.8 2.2 0.7

7.6

As reflected in the previous table, Law’s personal stats weren’t overly impressively in the Euroleague; however, the local Greek media acknowledged his contributions to the success of the team. In addition, the Olympiacos fans loved him and he loved them. Upon getting cut by his team due to injuries, Law showed class writing the following note.

ACIE LAW – THANK YOU NOTE

law note

I don’t know Acie from Adam, but he seems like a good guy who will always be a winner (especially in College Station). Unfortunately, his skills didn’t translate to the NBA. As a bona fide college superstar who failed as a professional (at least in the NBA), he has the telltale signs of an all-time bust. However, he falls short of being a Top 10 Bust because he was drafted too low at 11th overall to have such high expectations put on him. Instead, he earned an exemption which I will refer to as The Acie Law. Regardless, he didn’t escape receiving a Top 10 Bust Honorable Mention.

THE ACIE LAW

One Reply to “Acie Law: Honorable Mention (NBA)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.