I have had a couple of somewhat controversial picks in my 20 Greatest Denver Nuggets of all time and I think this one will stir the pot a bit as well. I give to you my pick for the 8th greatest Denver Nugget of all time………Diminutive Point Guard Ty Lawson.
I am basing this on his potential future in a Nuggets uniform along with the improvement he has made since coming to Denver in a trade on Draft Day in 2009 from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ty has had a very good start to his career but the future looks even brighter for the 5′ 11″ fireplug from North Carolina University. Lawson comes with high grades as he won the NCAA Championship in 2009 along with being named the ACC Player of the year in the same season. Lawson was the first point guard to win that award since the legendary Phil Ford accomplished the feat in 1978. When Lawson was drafted the Nuggets had Denver favorite Chauncey Billups at the point and he had just led them to the Western Conference Finals the year before. This was a good situation for Lawson as he was able to learn the ropes of the NBA from one of the great leaders of the modern era and an NBA Champion and Finals MVP. He was given his chance to be the starting point guard for the Nuggets when Billups was traded to the Knicks as part of the Carmelo Anthoney deal in February of 2011. He has taken the reins of the Nuggets offense and improved statistically in each of his 5 seasons with the Nuggets.
Lawson only averaged 20 minutes a game as a rookie but still contributed 8.3 points and 3.1 assists per game in limited duty. After he was anointed the starter his stats rose considerably as he averaged 16.4 points and 6.6 assists in his first full season as a starter in 2011-2012. The 2013-2014 season is when I think Lawson broke out and became a borderline all star as he vaulted his averages to 17.6 points and 8.8 assists per game which put him second in the League behind Chris Paul. Lawson’s career numbers in 341 games with the Nuggets are 14.0 points, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game and his star is rising as we head into the 2014-2015 season.
Lawson is the only current Nugget on my top 20 and I think deservedly so due to his great upside going into the next 5 years. The Nuggets have him locked up in a contract until 2018 so barring a trade, Lawson will end up on the top 10 list in scoring and assists before his career here is over. He also lead the Nuggets to the best record in franchise history in the 2012-2013 season garnering 57 wins and setting an all time home win mark with 39.
I enjoy watching Lawson play because he is relentlessly energetic and has a very high basketball IQ. In addition to that he can get his shot off in traffic even though he is only 5′ 11″. He improved his 3 point shooting drastically since coming into the league and actually holds the record for the most 3 pointers made in a row to start a game with 10 on April 9, 2011. His stat line for that game was 37 points (a career high), 7 rebounds and 6 assists and he went 10-11 from 3 point land. His quickness and tenacity help him on the defensive end of the floor because he is normally guarding taller players but he holds his own with effort and quickness.
The future is very bright for Ty Lawson and I predict that he will be in his first all star game in the next 2 seasons and be a fixture there from then on. The Nuggets have a very good asset in Lawson and I think he should be a piece they build around and make a core player on their team.
So get your comments ready because my 8th greatest Denver Nugget of all time is……Tywon Ronnel “Ty” Lawson!