Why The Nuggets Should Trade Ty Lawson


February 21, 2011.

The Carmelo Anthony trade. It finally happened, leaving half of the Denver Nuggets fans relieved that the rumors and speculation were over, with the other half in denial about their team trading away its only true superstar. The trade’s effects were clear for the Nuggets, they were getting rid of their disgruntled star in exchange for a package of guys with the potential to be future studs — plus Raymond Felton.

But what is often forgotten is that Anthony was not the only player sent to the New York Knicks. Chauncey Billups was also part of the deal, cementing Ty Lawson as “the man” in Denver. As soon as Lawson came to Denver via a draft day trade in 2009, I was waiting for the day that Billups would be out of the picture. And he finally was. Things were looking up in the Mile High City. This young point guard could lead the Nuggets to the Playoffs, and be the centerpiece of the franchise for years to come. Well, those hopes were crushed in just four measly years.

Truthfully, it’s hard to say that Lawson has been a disappointment. He’s the closest thing the Nuggets have had to an All-Star since Carmelo’s departure, and he routinely posts eye-popping numbers. But it’s time to move on.

Lawson is one of the most talented point guards in the league. He might be the quickest guard in the NBA, he’s an above-average three-point shooter, and he has averaged about nine assists each of the past two seasons. But his immaturity and reluctance to take over games tells me that it is time to go in another direction.

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Lawson was arrested for DUI earlier this year, and about a month later, he missed the first post-All-Star Break practice, which resulted in him being benched by former head coach Brian Shaw the following game. Lawson is 27, yet he consistently conducts himself in a painfully immature way. I understand that he is far from being the only professional athlete to get in legal trouble, but on a team that desperately needs some kind of leadership, this can’t keep happening. As the face of a franchise, you need to take responsibility, stay out of trouble, and set an example for the younger guys on the team. It may seem like just yesterday when Lawson was the new guy hanging out on the bench, but he is now one of the oldest players on team — behind only Randy Foye (31) and recently-acquired Jameer Nelson (33). And immaturity isn’t the only problem. Off-court leadership is something the Nuggets have been searching for for a while, but Lawson also happens to be inept at on-court leadership.

January 5, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard

Russell Westbrook

(0) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at the Most Valuable Player race for a second. It features two point guards; Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. While Curry, Westbrook, and Lawson are different players in a lot of ways, there is one major factor that separates the two MVP-caliber point guards from Lawson — Shots. Field goals attempted. Trying to put the ball in the hoop. However you want to say it, Lawson isn’t doing enough of it.

According to ESPN.com, Curry averages about 16.8 shot attempts per-game, Westbrook 21.4, and Lawson… 12.4. Arguably the best scorer on the floor for the Nuggets at any given point in time, and he’s putting up around 12 shots per-game. Lawson’s shooting percentages are also better than Westbrook’s across the board, and he isn’t too far off from Curry. If Lawson would just be more aggressive, the Nuggets would have an annual All-Star, a possible MVP candidate, and an actual building block for the future. Instead, they have timid ol’ Ty Lawson. You’ve been starting for four and a half years pal. Time to be the man, or make room for someone who will.

Lawson is an immensely talented player. I was nothing but optimistic regarding Lawson for the better part of five years, but it’s time to move on. I have absolutely no doubt that he will succeed wherever he ends up, but he is not a franchise-defining player, which something the Nuggets need more than anything right now. I know what you’re thinking, “Why not just keep Lawson and try to get a franchise player to play alongside him?” Ty has overstayed his welcome. He is rumored to have clashed with Brian Shaw, and if you have a timid point guard who is consistently in the news for the wrong reasons, a change of scenery may be the only way to correct the issue. It’s time for the Nuggets to cut their losses and trade Ty Lawson.