Essay: What Does The Future Hold For Ty Lawson?
Ty Lawson broke his own big news. Yesterday, the Denver Nuggets and their starting point guard agreed upon a four-year, $48 million deal. With the team going forward with what looks like a roster headed by Lawson, what will happen from now on? And has Lawson even reached his ceiling yet? All very interesting questions.
I like judging a contract not by comparing it to other deals, but by studying at the player’s current production and potential versus the money he received. By most standards, this is a very fair contract for Lawson. At the young age of 24, he’s proven to be a hyper-efficient scorer capable of rebounding the ball relatively well for his size, and he’s very good at running Denver’s offense. Just last year he posted a 19.4 PER, which is well above average. At $12 million a year, considering his current production and potential—he’s so young!—the Nuggets might even be underpaying him according to current market value.
By adding electrifying defensive wing Andre Iguodala over the summer, Denver looks like they will have plenty of regular season success and potentially even a few playoff victories. This team will be dominant offensively, playing at such a high pace (second in the league last year at 94.2 possessions per 48 minutes) and having so many athletes. In my opinion, Ty Lawson is the key to the playoff success of this team for two major reasons.
First, unless Danilo Gallinari suddenly breaks out this season (entirely possible), Ty Lawson is the best scorer on the Nuggets. With a great mix of shooting and slashing ability, Lawson is really the only player who can somewhat create his own shot. That will be essential in the playoffs when the defenses tighten up and creation becomes all-too important.
The second reason is that Lawson’s drive-and-kick ability is crucial to a Denver Nuggets offense that will be limited in the running game during the playoffs. The Nuggets don’t have a lot of great shooters, but they will seemingly depend on the three-ball a lot when they find they cannot get to the rim, and that they have no mid-range game. Ty Lawson’s drive-and-kick game (which he might be one of the best in the league at) will get his teammates the most open looks they could possible ask for. Basically, it looks like Ty Lawson holds the responsibility of carrying his team’s offense if they want to go anywhere in the playoffs.
Now to put a damper on expectations: his status as a franchise player and his ceiling. Now this may sound cheap, but Lawson’s status as a franchise player is limited by his height. It’s been said by some that the shorter you are, the less impact you have on the court. Lawson plays his heart out, but he’s extremely limited by the fact that he’s not very good defensively (somewhat due to his height) and that he can’t really improve on much else in his game.
He’s already an elite shooter, with a reputable shot selection, but he can never be the best player on a title team.
Nuggets/Ty Lawson fans should not be discouraged. He’ll have plenty of success even if he doesn’t get his franchise a ring. Over the length of his contract, I expect a lot of fun, wins, and excitement. Doesn’t that make him a winner? Maybe not, but he could always prove me wrong. When dealing with a talent like this, I would not bet against him.