Can Ty Lawson Blossom into a Superstar for Denver Nuggets in Key Contract Year?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterOctober 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets moves the ball while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Ty Lawson has been underrated over these past two seasons. Blame the Denver market, or blame George Karl for playing Lawson less than 35 minutes per game. 

But if I were to find a reason for Lawson's small SportsCenter time, it would be this: He doesn't fit the classic point guard mold. He's more of a scorer than a passer, which is blasphemy in the eyes of some point guard fundamentalists. 

This is some wisdom in not wanting your smallest player to be a scorer, because smaller players tend to have a tougher time creating easy shots. Nobody wants some sprite highjacking an offense and shooting 42 percent. 

Lawson is different, though, because he scores with a big man's efficiency. An incredible 40 percent of Ty's tries were at the rim over the past two seasons (via HoopData). He's cat-quick (and about as small as a cat, perhaps), with a slick handle. In the open court, at warp speed, it's easy for Lawson to get hoop-ward.

Not only can Ty Lawson slash defenses to bloody ribbons, he can hit the three. Lawson is a career .388 three-point shooter, though his percentage dipped to .365 last season. 

In that dip in three-point percentage for Lawson, I see opportunity for improvement. If Lawson can shoot closer to the 40-percent mark from deep that he managed in his first two seasons (three-point shooting can be a noisier stat than other forms of scoring), he should see a points boost.

Also, if George Karl decides to play Lawson closer to 40 minutes per night, his raw numbers might start attracting some deserved attention. Though basketball obsessives discuss efficiency metrics, raw averages have much to do with how the general public views players. 

At 16.4 points and 6.6 assists per game, Ty Lawson isn't exactly turning heads into neck spasms. He's one of the game's most efficient point guards, though, and avid fans would do themselves a favor to take notice.

General managers around the league will certainly also be taking notice as Lawson shows out in a contract year. Expect next season's qualifying offer to be at least double (if not triple) of the $3.6 million he's due.