Sinai Says: Israel’s Dawson takes on daunting NBA challenge

Dawson is currently playing for the Washington Wizards in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, hoping to be handed an opportunity by the Wizards or any other team that might be impressed by his play.

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July 13, 2016 01:20
3 minute read.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion guard Shawn Dawson scored a game-high 25 points in his team’s 93-85 win over V

Maccabi Rishon Lezion guard Shawn Dawson scored a game-high 25 points in his team’s 93-85 win over Ventspils of Latvia last night, helping secure Rishon’s progress to the Europe Cup quarterfinals.. (photo credit: ODED KARNI/ISRAEL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION))

 
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Shawn Dawson has no doubt. He is going to become the third Israeli to play in the NBA.

He isn’t even thinking of returning to Maccabi Rishon Lezion next season.

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“I can’t see that happening,” was how he put it.

In fact, he doesn’t see himself playing anywhere other than in the NBA in 2016/17. Such is his belief in his abilities.

Dawson is currently playing for the Washington Wizards in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, hoping to be handed an opportunity by the Wizards or any other team that might be impressed by his play.

He got the Summer League off to a quiet start on Saturday, scoring six points in 15 minutes in an 88-73 win over Utah Jazz. He didn’t play at all in Sunday’s game against Atlanta, with the Wizards facing Brooklyn Nets in their final group game in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old guard is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel and become the third Israeli to play in the NBA after helping Rishon Lezion to a historic BSL championship last season.



He scored 21 points in the final against Hapoel Jerusalem last month, continuing his steady progress since making his debut for Rishon as an 18-year-old.

Dawson averaged 15.7 points (61% from two-point range, 36% from three), 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals last season, all career highs.

Local powerhouses Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem would love to add Dawson to their rosters, but he has always believed that the best way to progress his career was by playing as much as possible at Rishon, a decision which has clearly paid off.

“I’m very very optimistic. I really think that I can get a contract and play in the NBA,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The level of play here is completely different.

There is a lot of work on the finer details because every small thing makes a difference at this level.”

Dawson said nerves played a role in his performance in the first game, but insisted they will not hamper him any longer.

“It wasn’t difficult to settle in, but I was more excited than usual and it showed in my first game,” he explained. “I was slightly surprised that I didn’t play in the second game, but I didn’t take it personally because that is the way things go in the Summer League.”

Dawson, who is represented by Daniel Hazan of Hazan Sports Management, said he hasn’t gotten much feedback from the Wizards’ coaching staff and that he is unsure when they will let him know if they plan to sign him for next season.

“They haven’t really told me what they think of me. They do give me encouragement during practice, but not much else,” he said. “I could hear from the team in an hour, and I might not hear from them for another month.”

Shawn is the son of former basketball player Joe Dawson, an Alabama native who first came to play in Israel in 1987 and stayed in the country after marrying Iris, Shawn’s mother, in 1992. Shawn was born one year later and credits his father, who is also with him in Las Vegas, for helping him throughout his career.

Shawn arrived in the US just five days after winning the Israeli league title with Rishon. He spent two weeks working with a personal trainer in New York before working out for another week in Washington ahead of the Summer League.

“I didn’t have a break. I’m tired, but this is not the time to relax,” he said. “This is the moment of truth of my career and I want to take several steps forward and reach the NBA. I’m giving one last push over the next couple of weeks in the hope that it will pay off. After that I’ll be able to take a break.”

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