Every season, Ty Lawson gets better. This is something that one could say about many players in the NBA, but Lawson’s situation is a bit more unique. Ty Lawson has increased his numbers in every major statistical category every season (points, assists, rebounds, steals, free-throw percentage, and minutes), while only dipping in field-goal percentage (which is only natural because of his increased role on the offensive end). The dip in field-goal percentage is not even that huge of a dip. Any time a guard goes from 50% to 48%, there should not be many complaints. But is Lawson in store for another season of progression?
Scoring: The acquisition of Andre Iguodala will have an overlooked effect on Lawson this coming season. Now, there are three play-makers on the floor to start games. Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari are both players that can take on a point-forward role (even though Iguodala will play shooting guard), which will allow Lawson to defer ball-handling duties to them in certain situations or sets in order to score more. Lawson may not be the leading scorer this season for the Nuggets (that honor will most likely go to Gallo because of the coaching staff’s obsession with making him a superstar), but he will see a definite increase in his offensive numbers. His turnover rate most likely will go down as well, and that will only further showcase his offensive efficiency.
Efficiency: Ty Lawson scoring more efficiently will be what makes the Nuggets a better team. What evidence is there that having a point guard score more will make for a more efficient team? Look no further than the first round series against the Lakers. In Game 4 of that series, Lawson scored 11 points and gathered 6 assists while shooting 39%. The Nuggets lost that game. But when Lawson’s offensive numbers in Games 3 and 6 increased, the Nuggets won in dominating fashion. In Game 3, Ty Lawson scored 25 points (on 47% shooting), dropped 7 assists, and grabbed 4 rebounds. The Nuggets won that game 99-84. In Game 6, Lawson shot the lights-out with 32 points (a playoff career high, on 72% shooting and 83% shooting from three), 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. The Nuggets won that game 113-96. Needless to say, when Ty asserts himself more on the offensive end, good things happen to the Nuggets. Look for Lawson to do more of that next season. Lawson averaged 12.6 field-goal attempts last season, so look for that number to jump to around 15.
Rebounding: Another under-looked aspect of Lawson’s numbers is that when Lawson rebounds the ball well, the Nuggets do well. Lawson is part of the elite group of point guards (Rondo, Chris Paul, and Westbrook) who have a talent for grabbing offensive rebounds and making good things happen when they do. If one looks at the numbers from the Lakers series (shown above), one can see that when Lawson rebounded, the Nuggets won. In Game 4, Lawson did not grab a single rebound, and the Nuggets lost. In Games 3 and 6, Ty Lawson grabbed 4 and 5 rebounds, respectively. If Lawson wants to be a better player this season, he needs to focus on that part of his game. When Lawson rebounds, the Nuggets are a better team.
Assists: Although Lawson should take more of a shooting role in the offense this year, do not expect his assists to dip. Last season, Lawson averaged 6.6 assists, a 1.9 increase over his 4.7 average from the 2010-11 season. Although it was outlined earlier that Lawson needs to shoot more, that does not necessarily mean that he won’t drop dimes this season. In fact, with a new transition buddy in Igoudala, Lawson will get more assists because of transition buckets from Faried, McGee, and Igoudala. All three of these players are excellent in transition and can finish with ease which should bolster Ty Lawson’s assist numbers. This prediction is boosted by the fact that George Karl wants the team to run more. Expect around 8 assists in Lawson’s fourth season.
The All-Star Game: Lawson’s development as a legitimate starting point will earn him an All-Star Game nod as a reserve next season. His numbers may not be especially flashy, but his shooting and ability to control his team will be noticed. Of course, most of the All-Star selections are picked because the team is successful, so it is also upon the other Nuggets (particularly Gallo and Iggy) to display why Lawson is such a good point guard.
Expectations: This season will be Lawson’s true breakout season. He will lead the Nuggets to a 50+ win season behind a beautiful mix of scoring and involving teammates. He will be among those in contention for the MIP award (Most Improved Player), and he will earn his first All-Star Game selection. Lawson will start to make his way into the upper echelon of point guards in the NBA with his play next season. If there is one player to watch for this season, it’s Ty Lawson.
Projected Stats for Ty Lawson in 2012-13:
- 18 Points per game
- 7.4 Assists per game
- 4.5 Rebounds per game
- 49% Shooting
- 85% Free-Throw Shooting
- 38% Three-Point Shooting