A Daily Babble Production
With the Atlanta Hawks looking to improve off of last year's 37 wins and first-round playoff elimination and starting point guard Mike Bibby's capability level still uncertain, there will be added pressure this season on Bibby's back-up, Acie Law IV.
The reserve guard from Texas A&M enters his second season, and he got off to an encouraging start in the Hawks' preseason opener in Orlando on Monday. In 25 minutes of action, Law put up 20 points (8-for-11 shooting) and grabbed five boards while dishing out four assists, earning rave reviews as he instigated a second-half comeback for an Atlanta victory.
It's still only the preseason - and the opener at that - so excellent beat writer Sekou Smith of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution could be reaching a bit when he writes, "Any fears about Acie Law IV’s readiness to run this Hawks team were eliminated here Monday night. Any other questions about his game, competitive nature or poker face were sufficiently answered as well." But it never hurts to play well, and it would be a pleasure to see this performance serve as a harbinger of things to come for a guy with the chance to become one of his team's most dynamic young players.
Law had a lackluster debut season. The 6-foot-3 combo guard played a shade more than 15 minutes per game in 56 appearances, averaged 4.2 points and 2.0 assists per game and barely broke the 40 percent and 20 percent marks from the field and behind the three-point line respectively. By playoff time, he was playing fewer than 10 minutes per night. Suffice it to say that he didn't exactly burst onto the scene.
But given that he was a rookie, and given that he has the ability to do far more in the seasons to come, it wouldn't hurt to cut Law some slack for an unenthralling first campaign. Two years ago at Texas A&M, he was one of the nation's most impressive collegiate players. The numbers were good enough at 18.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game to go with 50 percent field-goal shooting and 45.8 percent three-point shooting (for an absurd 59 percent true shooting). But it was Law's leadership and ability to do a bit of everything for his Aggies that made him stand out.
The senior guard always seemed to keep a cool head on his shoulders and was the unquestioned leader on the floor for his squad. He attacked the rim hard and was unafraid to put his 195-pound frame in the way of contact, averaging more than five trips per game to the foul line in his final amateur season. He was dangerous from the outside and could also step in and pull up from mid-range with his sweet southpaw stroke. He was willing to distribute the ball as well and kept the offense running smoothly for A&M throughout the season.
On the biggest stages, Law was there to put his team on his back and do everything he could to give his boys a shot to win. His national coming-out party came in a two-point, double-overtime loss to Texas on February 28, 2007. In a nationally televised game, Law played every one of the game's 50 minutes and duked it out with young sensation Kevin Durant, matching the freshman's 30-point, 16-rebound effort with 33 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds of his own. Law scored nine of his team's last 12 points in regulation, including a three-pointer to tie the game with two seconds to play, and he put up 10 of the Aggies' 18 over the two overtimes. Four days earlier, he had put up 31 points (10-of-15 shooting, 9-of-9 from the foul line) in a win over Baylor, and three days later, he hung up 20 in an easy win over Missouri. He followed all of that up with a 26-point performance that featured 13-of-15 shooting from the foul line in a nail-biting victory over Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tourney before cooling off for 13 as the Aggies fell by one to Memphis in the next round.
This is a player who was known throughout college as a high-character guy who worked hard at both ends of the floor and had ice in his veins when it came to taking the biggest of shots. Acie Law IV has the shooting ability and the decision-making skills to hang as a contributor if not a star at the professional level. His tenacity and energy could give the Hawks an important lift off the bench this season, and he could be a crucial piece in helping the Hawks' second unit pick up the slack in the season to come.