PG Ty Lawson has been the one constant for the Denver Nuggets over the past five years. He was a part of the Carmelo Anthony years. He has played behind Chauncey Billups. He has coexisted with Andre Miller. And through it all, he has endured, and emerged as the Nuggets’ best player by a wide margin.
When he was selected with the 18th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, he was widely considered to be an unknown due to his size and lingering injury concerns. He has undoubtedly overshot expectations to the point where people like me are now calling for him to take it to the next level. But that is only because I see how truly great he could be.
Lawson has demonstrated consistent improvement year after year, and last season he amplified his play to a near All-Star level (17.6 PPG, 8.8 APG, 1.6 SPG). But he has the unfortunate fate of playing in the same conference as Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.
That said, I still think Lawson has another gear he can kick it into. There are still moments in every game where I question his aggressiveness. He has the ability to make opposing defenders look foolish at any given moment with his explosiveness, and he doesn’t take advantage of that fact nearly enough.
The Nuggets’ offense lives and dies by Lawson, as evidenced by their anemic output while he was injured for nine games last season with a rib fracture. Not coincidentally, that was the worst stretch of their season, losing 10 out of 11 games, and they dipped more than 10 points below their season scoring average.
There is no single player who is more important to their team than Lawson, and yet his name never comes up when discussing the best players in the league. Well, this needs to be the year that Lawson changes that.
The Nuggets’ front office made bold assertions this offseason that they would be aggressive in their attempts to improve the team. Since that is turning out to be a bold-faced lie, it seems like their strategy is to give this group one more shot at showing what they can do. They are, for lack of a better term, taking inventory.
Lawson needs to take advantage of this scenario and prove to the Nuggets, and to the rest of the league, that he is an All-Star, and he does belong in the conversation about best players in the NBA. There is no doubt in my mind that he is capable of doing so. He is one of the most exciting players I have ever had the opportunity to watch.
If he can’t take it to that next level, it is time for the Nuggets to shop him around for a combination of young players and high draft picks. They can’t be afraid to shake up this core if they prove themselves unable to become a true contender, and he will be the most attractive piece to any potential trade offer.
The Nuggets are desperately seeking the services of a superstar. It is time for Lawson to show them they have one right under their noses.