It’s hard to live up to high expectations. When it comes to being the No. 1 overall selection in a draft, the expectations are the highest they can be. Anthony Lawrence II got to experience that pressure for the Northern Arizona Suns this past season, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA G League Draft. Not only did he live up to the high expectations, but he proved the Suns made a good choice in selecting him with the top pick.
Lawrence played as advertised all season, showcasing great versatility with his scoring, shooting, rebounding, passing and defending. He averaged 8.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting, including 35.5 percent from distance, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 38 games with 26 starts.
Versatility was the name of the game for the No. 1 pick in the draft this year in Anthony Lawrence II! pic.twitter.com/nbsCbqR7vj
— NAZ Suns (@nazsuns) July 13, 2020
Among 2019 first round picks in the league, Lawrence averaged the fifth most points, the fourth most rebounds and the sixth most assists. In total, he scored the fifth most points, secured the third most rebounds, dished out the fifth most assists, and made the fourth most three-pointers. He earned more starts than any other first round pick, playing in the sixth most games and playing the sixth most minutes.
Lawrence began his rookie year after a four-year stint at the University of Miami (Florida) with his best game as a professional. He tallied 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-7 from downtown, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. It was one of two 21-point games on the year for the forward, a career-high. His 12 rebounds marked a current career-high. He had the most rebounds in a Suns’ season opener in team history, surpassing the 11 by Johnny O’Bryant vs. Iowa on Nov. 12, 2016.
His second 21-point game came just a week later in the third Suns game of the season, as he scored it on 6-of-10 shooting, 2-of-5 from distance, adding three rebounds and three assists on Nov. 17 vs. Rio Grande Valley.
Through his first nine games of 2019-20, Lawrence scored 10+ points seven times, averaging 12.6 points (50.6 FG%, 47.5 3PT%, 90.0 FT%), 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Lawrence shined brightest in front of NAZ Suns fans at the Findlay Toyota Center, where his numbers across the board were significantly higher than they were for road games. At home, Lawrence averaged 10.5 points (52.4 FG%, 44.3 3PT%, 80.0 FT%), 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Among players with 10+ games at their home arena, Lawrence was one of 10 players in the entire league with a 50/40/80 split on shooting.
Leaguewide, it’s clear Lawrence was a great choice at No. 1 for the Suns. In team history, Lawrence had some of the best numbers by a draft pick in their rookie year ever, finishing second in scoring (behind Aaron Epps’ 10.3 PPG), second in rebounding (behind Epps’ 6.7 RPG), and first in assists.