Acie Law was one hell of a college ball player. He led Texas A&M for four years, playing well enough to be selected 11th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Greatness ended there. In his rookie year Law barely played and played poorly when he did play, averaging just 4 points on 40% shooting and 2 assists in 56 games. The next season he lost even more minutes, and last season he only played in 26 games for 3 different teams.
Hoopsworld is reporting that, despite his terrible professional track record, Acie Law will sign with the Memphis Grizzlies for one year, likely for the veteran's minimum, which is a common contract for backup point guards.
Fans who were hoping for a major upgrade from Marcus Williams are bound to be disappointed, and fans who were hoping for a guard who could push Mike Conley will be even more upset. It seems pretty unlikely that Law is here for much more than picking up a few minutes a game.
Some people will tell you that, given his spectacular performance in college ball, Acie Law is a project player, or has potential. Don't believe them. We know what Acie Law is at this point in the game.
He's a righty who shoots lefty with an ugly long-range shot, but scores somewhat effectively in the paint since he's just about ambidextrous. Law isn't a pure passer, he's more of a combo guard. We've seen players like him breakout before, but just not often enough.
In fact Acie Law actually is almost a perfect case study for a point that I've been meaning to bring up for weeks after the drafting of Xavier Henry: General Managers need to stop paying attention to college ball and worry about high-school class rankings and scouting reports, especially in the lottery.
I can't think of an NBA stud who wasn't also a top tier recruit to colleges, or left for the draft early.
Also using the paradigm of judging players against their high-school classmates helps us better judge drafts as a whole and see that top tier prospects are actually much more evenly distributed between years than we think. Take the much-vaunted class of 2003. LeBron James stays, but Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh get pushed to 2002, and Dwyane Wade gets drafted in 2001. Suddenly the draft landscape becomes much more even, which makes sense intuitively.
Look Acie Law was comparatively a great player his junior and senior year, but he should have been, he was four years older than draftmate Mike Conley, who was the only other point drafted in the lottery that year.
If someone is a "combo-guard" like Law, then of course they learn how to be the lead guard in a system after 4 years in that system. It's not that they learned how to become a point guard, they learned how to play point guard for their team through experience.
Yes, I am espousing a sort of basketball fatalism, where talent and position are effectively DNA written. Yes, I know there are exceptions to this theory, but overall I think it stands. Imagine these young ballers as a fine marble sculpture, if the first few chunks taken off make the shape of a pachyderm, then the artwork can only really be finished and refined as a woolly mammoth or elephant, not a water buffalo.
Which is why I'm willing to stand up and tell you not to expect much out of Acie Law this year. The dude is a role player, a career pine rider, and that's alright, I guess, since we should've known it all along.