By Charles Odum
ATLANTA - Only minutes after signing his first NBA contract on Monday, Acie Law was eager to call home with the big news.
Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson had other plans. Point guards must worry about calling plays before calling moms.
"It's funny," Law said. "As soon as I signed, I went into the locker room to call my mom and tell her and Coach Woodson came right behind me and said 'What are you doing? We're waiting on you to start practice.'"
The big news about the contract could wait. In his first practice Monday, followed by two more workouts on Tuesday, Law had his first opportunity to prove he can be an NBA point guard and not just another shooting guard who will pretend to play the point.
Law, the No. 11 pick in last month's draft, asks that he not be judged by short-lived experiments in recent years to move shooting guards Joe Johnson and Salim Stoudamire to point guard.
Law (6-3, 195) says critics shouldn't assume that his ability to score - he ranked fifth in the Big 12 with his average of 18.1 points per game for Texas A&M last season - means that he's not a point guard. He was third in the conference with 5.0 assists per game.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes my team to win," Law said Tuesday. "I don't get caught up in what people say about being a pure point guard or a shooting guard trying to play point guard. When I was at Texas A&M, my team was successful. That's what I'm trying to bring here - be a point guard and be a leader and a winner. That silences everything."
Law, fellow first-round pick Al Horford and second-year forwards Shelden Williams and Solomon Jones will lead the Hawks' summer league team in the Rocky Mountain Review, which begins Friday in Salt Lake City.
Law and a rookie free agent, Derek Raivio of Gonzaga, likely will be the primary point guards in Salt Lake City, but Law won't have to immediately handle the starting job next season. Veterans Speedy Claxton, Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue are expected to return.
"Acie is going to be fine," Woodson said. "He's going to be able to play point like we thought and be able to make plays. It's going to be a learning curve as we go along, but once he gets under Speedy's and Lue's umbrella as veteran guys, that will probably speed the process up even more."
Law played four years at Texas A&M and Horford left Florida after his junior season. Woodson said he noticed immediately the two are more developed in their first practices than were Josh Smith, who entered the league out of high school, and Marvin Williams, who played only one year at North Carolina.
"They're so far ahead of the game because they've had coaching in three or four years of college," Woodson said. "That really helps me from a coaching standpoint. They pick up things a lot faster than the young guys we've had in the last few years."
Law is wearing No. 4 to reflect his name - Acie Law IV. He says his father, Acie Law III, also was a point guard.
"He put the ball in my hand as a small child and that's where it's been all along," Law said.
So Law stuck with basketball even though his great uncle is Hall of Fame baseball player Ernie Banks. Law's uncle, Bobby Johnson, played three years for the Texas Rangers (1981-83).