Ty Lawson fell all the way to No. 18 in the 2009 NBA draft, when his college production screamed for a higher selection. His slight height caused a fall beyond the ranks of James Johnson, Austin Daye and Hasheem Thabeet.
Since his drafting, Lawson has impressed, somehow exhibiting a patient, in-rhythm game with screaming speed. The young Nuggets point guard is the rare player who can easily get to the rim, and rip nets from beyond the arc.
How many lightning-fast point guards can do this?
Yet, when Ty Lawson gets offered four years, $45 million, many question whether he deserves it. The real question should be, "Why isn't Ty Lawson worth a near-max deal?"
In a world where Brook Lopez gets four years, $60 million, Lawson looks like a wonderful alternative option. At 24 years old, he grazes 50 percent from the field, doing it with a healthy quotient of shots behind the arc. His career true shooting percentage (a stat that factors in free throws and threes) is an impressive .589.
Among point guards, Lawson was sixth in value added (a stat that adds up PER from all games played) among point guards, having played the fewest seasons in that top six. Denver had the third best offense in the league last season, and Lawson's stewardship was no small part of that success.
Recently, subjectively, Lawson has been playing with an admirable pace, often shot-faking opponents and slashing to open the floor for shooters. He seems to have a better grasp of how defenders react and overreact to his speed from the perimeter.
He has decent court vision and he's not an especially creative passer. Aside from the height (a flaw that doesn't seem to hurt him markedly on the defensive end), the knocks on Lawson are soft enough to barely register in your cochlea.
The emerging playmaker figures to be a Tony Parker clone, but with a better long distance shot. If this doesn't sound like it's worth big money to you, then we have different ideas on value.
I have to wonder whether this guy would get a bit more buzz in a big market. Lawson is on the cusp of his prime and he's slowly tugging the reins from Andre Miller. There is risk in offering such a big deal to almost any 24-year old, but Ty has earned it so far.
Fortunately for Denver, Lawson remains underrated, and it's doubtful that another team will swoop in with a max offer. For now, $45 million is less than what Ty Lawson deserves, but it could be what the open market will bear.