Ty Lawson is a point guard who fit George Karl’s up-tempo system. He is one of the fastest players in the league, and it led to good offense last year in Denver.
Now, with Brian Shaw, things would theoretically change for Lawson. Shaw came in and started preaching a system that would better fit the playoffs, and that meant that Lawson would have to change the way he plays. Well, things have changed for Lawson, but for the better. The Nuggets started out 0-3, and they looked like a team that lacked an identity, but Lawson has helped turn the ship around. Shaw sees his improvement, via NBA.com:
“There’s obviously some differences in the way that George Karl played and the way that our team is playing, but we still want to run and try to take the first available shot,” Shaw said. “I think early on he was a little frustrated because my emphasis was on we have to play inside-out and get the ball inside and create penetration that way. But I think he’s picked and found his spots and he has a green light.”
Lawson is averaging 20.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game–which are all career highs. The key for the Nuggets is that they still play fast. They are the third fastest team in terms of pace in the NBA at 100.47 possessions per 48 minutes, but it is late in games that differs for the Nuggets:
“He’s cool, calm and collected,” Lawson of Shaw. “I knew he was going to try the Triangle or a variation of it and also still keep the running in our game. Late in games, that’s when we start running a lot of plays, when the shot clock’s running down, when we really need points. That’s helping us out a lot because you’re going to need that in the playoffs.”
“We look inside first, like the first three seconds for a post-up, then it’s basically the guard’s turn,” Lawson said. “You go pick-and-roll, drag, just like Coach Karl, and if you have none of that, just get into a play real quick. And the plays — they’re unbelievable — we’ve got counters; these plays are something that I think a lot of coaches should have in their repertoire.”
This Nuggets team is starting to look like a playoff team, and if they can play better during the playoff time of the year, than they will be a dangerous team. They have found a winning formula when they play small-ball, and it has worked since JaVale McGee went down. As for Lawson, he is looking like an all-star early on.