Considering the remarkable similarity between the 2, I thought it would be fun to go back in time to see what was said about Felton when he was coming into the NBA. Felton has developed into a solid PG, and one that may be developing into a very good one after learning from Larry Brown. This past season he put up 14 ppg, nearly 7 apg, 4 rpg and 1.5 spg. He is one of the quickest PGs in the league, and here is some of what DX said about his past season:
Coming into the league, Felton was lauded for his quickness, speed, and explosiveness. He was considered tough and the leader of the National Champion Tar Heels. His athleticism made up for his height in many ways. He was also noticed for his elite ballhandling skills with either hand. He was a true pass first PG, who was considered to be a great passer, despite a high number of turnovers. They also praised him for quick hands and feet on defense.His quickness, strength, and explosiveness are ideal even by NBA standards, though his physical stature is only average. Has quickly become a quality NBA point guard, and has the potential to get even better, even though he’s been hurt by Charlotte’s lack of stability from the sidelines. Future success largely depends on whether Larry Brown will try to rein him in, or allow him to play the type of up-tempo basketball that best suits him.
Offense: Operates primarily off of the pick and roll, but also gets some of his shots from spot up and isolation situations. A great pick and roll point guard due to his ability to turn the corner, create passing lanes, and find the open man. One of the best point guards in the League at throwing full court bounce passes. The most impressive aspect of his point guard skills stem from the way he pushes the ball in transition. Very good at getting to an open area, receiving the outlet, and advancing the ball up the floor in a hurry. Capable of turning regular possessions into fast break opportunities. Few players can match his agility, ball handling, and court vision on the move. A poor shooter from behind the 3-point line, which is the #1 thing he will have to improve on to become more than just an average NBA point guard. Could still stand to improve his finishing ability around the rim, which is hampered by his poor size. Tends to drive left when he attacks the basket, and usually gets all the way to the rim. Absorbs contact better than most point guards. Shoots a pretty decent percentage from the line, but could always improve in that aspect of the game. Seems to get going too fast at times, leading to turnovers, but is starting to control tempo like an NBA floor general. It would probably serve him well to improve his midrange game to diversify his offensive repertoire.
Defense: A great ball-hawk, pressuring his man the entire length of the floor and being a general nuisance when his man has the ball. Great lateral quickness. His ability to jump into passing lanes allows him to create some turnovers, though he tends to avoid taking unnecessary risks. A smart defender considering his experience level, and much of his ability can be contributed to his time at North Carolina. Shows a willingness to go after long rebounds, but would just as soon get ready to receive an outlet pass. Size will always be a hindrance in this area, though, as opposing guards can easily see the floor and get shots off against him.
His weaknesses were his size, of course. Some wondered if he was injury prone. Physicality got to him. And, there was the UNC System Stigma:
He also was not a good shooter. He still has poor FG% in the NBA. However, he has answered some of the knocks on him in the League. For one, he has missed 9 games in 4 years. He has been a consistent performer despite a slew of new coaches, and really blossomed in the 2nd half of the season under Larry Brown. He has shown that he can play at varying speeds, and is one of the top fast breaking PGs in the league. He still has a lot of room to grow, but he has nice potential to be an even better starter than he already is.On one hand, the speed at which Felton plays at is one of his greatest strengths; it can also at times be his greatest weakness. He needs to cut down on the turnovers, which are almost always a result of playing too fast or trying to make passes that are too difficult. It sometimes seems that Felton can only play at one speed, which of course is lightning speed. He is going to have to learn to slow down and take what the defense dictates.
Now, Lawson has many of the same strenghts, as well as knocks.
STRENGTHS:- Transition play- True point guard- Ability to create own shot- Aggressive slashing mentality- Ball-handling skills- Excellent hands- Ability to get in passing lanes- Pressure defense- Potential- Unselfishness- Work ethic- High-level productivity- Assist to turnover ratio- Court vision- Passing skills- Incredibly quick- Strength- 3-point shooting percentages- Ability to catch and shootWEAKNESSES:- Ability to play at different speeds- Mid-range game- Defensive potential- Basketball IQ?- Experience- Focus- Leadership skills in clutch- College system makes him difficult to evaluate- Poor wingspan- Size for position- Ability to shoot off the dribble- Limited number of 3-point attempts- Pull-up jumper
UNC's system makes it hard for people to decide whether or not he can play in the pros. His shot is questioned, his height is questioned, his ability to play at other speeds is questioned, his defense is questioned, his IQ is questioned. All similar complaints about Felton who has turned into a quality starter. Lawson has had the better individual college career, which means he could turn into a better pro than Felton is. Yet no one really talks about that...for reference:
Felton Jr Season: 6', 199 lbs, junior, National Champion.
32 mpg, 13 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg, 3.6 topg, 1.9 a/to, 45% FG, 44% 3pt, 70% FT
Lawson Jr Season: 6', 195, junior, National Champion.
30 mpg, 16.6 ppg, 3 rpg, 6.6 apg, 2.1 spgm 1.9 topg, 3.5 a/to, 53% FG, 47% 3pt, 80% FT
The knocks on Felton at the NBA (forcing bad passes, shooting midrange/3s) are things that Lawson has already demonstrated to be capable of. It's not a far stretch to imagine him being a better PG than Felton...and Felton was the #5 pick. It's interesting to see so much less is thought of Lawson, and maybe there's something to that that I don't know about.
I just thought it was remarkable how similar their careers and styles are. I'll be interested to see if Lawson's superior numbers translate to a superior NBA career. If the Pacers think it can, maybe he's someone they really like at 13. Lawson is a much better overall shooter, and seems to be a much better decision maker. If he can play the half court like Felton has learned how to, he could be a very good NBA PG. But most people aren't projecting that, so perhaps this comparison is way off. Like I said, I just thought it was very interesting how similar the positives, negatives, and numbers were, and Felton turned out just fine.
Is it enough of a potential upgrade over what we have now? That's what the Pacers will have to decide at 13. I still think they'll look to go big first, unless they get a deal they like for TJ.