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The Daily Tar Heel
From the Press Box

Lawson leading Heels in the NBA this week

The NBA season is just getting underway, and UNC alumni are making an impact across the pros.

Ty Lawson

Lawson had a MONSTER game Wednesday against the Nuggets, shooting 9-10 from the floor including a perfect 3-3 from 3-point land.

Last night’s game was the fifth time I’ve had the chance to watch Lawson play including two preseason games. I must say I have been extremely impressed.

He continually makes smart plays. His quickness has translated very well to the NBA. His ability to get into the lane allows him to make great plays for his teammates and gets him some good looks at the basket. While his assist numbers are far from stellar at this point, his penetration still creating havoc in the lane and creating open looks and driving lanes for his teammates.  He has really worked on his floater in the lane; it has become an integral part of his offensive repertoire. He is not by any means an elite jump-shooter, but he keeps taking smart, open looks within the flow of the offense and he keeps hitting them. Lawson has the ability to at the very least be a solid starting point guard someday, or perhaps we are looking at the next Tony Parker.

Wayne Ellington

Ellington has gotten off to a slow and inconsistent start to the season, but I maintain that he has a chance to be the best pro of any of the Tar Heels drafted this summer. 

He is a mere 1-6 from 3-point territory and just 8-28 in overall field goals.  Ellington is going to require an adjustment period, but once he settles into NBA life and gets comfortable with his teammates he could be a nightly threat to go for 20. The T-Wolves are very thin at shooting guard, so when Ellington inevitably finds his stroke he will probably log heavy minutes for Kurt Rambis.

Tyler Hansbrough

Hansbrough could make his debut Friday against the Wizards. He has been sidelined by the shin injury that bothered him early in his senior season at UNC. Jeff Foster is out, meaning the Pacers will need Hansbrough to play significant minutes as soon as he returns.   

Rasheed Wallace

Wallace seems to have settled into his backup role in Boston nicely. He has been playing a very efficient 21 minutes per game, averaging 11.2 points, shooting 42.5% from 3-point range, and playing his usual stingy defense. Having Wallace as a backup gives the Celtics the best defensive frontcourt in the league, and they are still without Glen Davis. If Wallace and Garnett stay healthy, the rest of the NBA should cower in fear at what could be the most versatile frontcourt tandem in the league. I cannot imagine having to coach against Boston in the fourth quarter knowing your frontcourt players have to guard and be guarded by those two. Yikes. 

Brendan Haywood

Haywood is off to a solid start this season, averaging 12 points, nine rebounds, and a block per game. He had a strong 16-point, 11-rebound performance Wednesday night against the Heat. While he probably won’t be a constant offensive threat for the Wizards, he will rebound and block shots for them as long as he is healthy. The Wizards await the return of Antawn Jamison to help them with consistent scoring in the post. Haywood’s numbers will likely suffer with the return of Jamison and the emergence of Andray Blatche. 

Vince Carter

Carter has played well for the Magic when he has played this season, scoring about 15 points per game. He has been out two games with an ankle sprain and remains a game-time decision for Friday’s game against the Pistons. The Magic have been fine without Carter, but once he is healthy and Rashard Lewis returns from his suspension, the Magic will be the deepest team in the league and poised to challenge for conference supremacy.   

Raymond Felton

Felton is off to a bit of a slow start, except for his performance against the Knicks in Charlotte’s first win.  Felton had 22 points and nine assists in an overtime thriller. The Bobcats need Felton to step up on the offensive end. They are struggling to score this season and are without scoring specialist Flip Murray. If this is the year the Bobcats finally make it to the postseason, Felton will need to be a consistent scoring threat as a point guard and in his limited time at shooting guard.

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