The NBA season is all about makings runs and stealing momentum, however the Denver Nuggets latest streak, now nearing its second successive month, may be a prelude to what could be the next Western Conference powerhouse.
Ty Lawson deserves a lot of the praise for the Nuggets’ play, but advanced stats raise concerns about some areas of Lawson’s game.
There was a lot of concern surround Lawson’s early season play when the fourth-year guard got off to somewhat of a rough start to the season after having signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension in the off-season.
The Nuggets completed a run that has seen the franchise win 19 of its past 24 games, dating back to January 20. Lawson’s influence has been undeniable — he has averaged a shade below 24 points, and 9.5 assists per game during that stretch.
Ty Lawson may be averaging career-highs in points and assists per game, but it’s his advanced stats that confuse his impact on the Nuggets’ run. Lawson’s advanced stats are actually down from last season’s; his PER has dropped from 19.4 down to 17.8, and his true shooting percentage has also seen a decrease of 3.6 percent, easily the lowest of his career.
Lawson has been on fire from the field, shooting better than 37 percent from 3-point land and nearly 50 percent from the floor in fourth quarters. However, a glaring weakness in his game is mid range shooting.
He is most effective at the rim, where he shoots the vast majority of his field goal attempts, converting a whopping 60 percent; but, his shooting suffers when he launches from between 10 feet out to the 3-point line, shooting below 40 percent from those areas.
The poor percentages from this region are in part due to coach George Karl’s dissatisfaction with the mid-range jumper, but it’s a part of the offence the pair are apparently working on together.
In addition, the Nuggets perform best when Ty Lawson is paired with Nuggets’ backup point guard Andre Miller. Nuggets lineups featuring both Miller and Lawson routinely outscore opponents per 100 possessions, at times as much as 22.5 points per 100 possessions.
Should the Nuggets be concerned that their team operates best when Miller is paired alongside Lawson? It remains to be seen, but Miller is often instrumental in being able to slow the pace of games down for the Nuggets and provide a stable, pass-first option.
Ty Lawson has been the rock behind Denver’s run for a top-four spot in the West, but his individual game may need some more attention if he’s to become the All-Star Denver needs to compete with the league’s best.