Debut Diary: Newly acquired Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson officially signed with the Pacers this morning and will play limited minutes tonight against the behemoth, almighty Spurs from San Antonio. The information that follows are my thoughts before, during, and after the game.

Pre-game:

5:12 PM: While reading the many, many stories on the Ty Lawson addition, it seems my optimism for the move is rising. I was skeptical that the bad fit in Houston was (fully) responsible for Lawson’s abysmal career-low numbers: points (5.4), assists (3.4), PER (9.0), net rating (-14), and true shooting percentage (48%). All of these numbers aren’t just slightly lower than what Ty Lawson did during his career. They fell off a cliff. Lawson was good for about 16 points and 7 assists during his last four years in Denver. His PER has never been below the league average of 15 until this season.

Lawson though seems very excited to be given this new opportunity with the Indiana Pacers. He stated that he was excited to “have the ball in my hands again.” Clearly, his role with the Rockets was draining on him as his numbers plummeted and his played off the ball while sharing the court with James Harden.

Another reason for my new-found optimism: Lawson is returning to the offense in which he had his greatest statistical success. Brian Shaw was the Nuggets coach for Lawson’s best season as a Nugget, and he’s stated that he already feels very comfortable with the new Pacers offense.

5:20 PM: I have to run an errand for the wife. Diced ham emergency! Pre-debut thoughts to be continued…

5:52 PM: 

Lawson will only play about 10 minutes tonight, but with Vogel having prepared a package of plays for Ty, he could be heavily involved in those limited minutes.

Now, back to those thoughts pre-diced-ham pickup at the grocery store. Lawson stated that he was already comfortable with most of Vogel’s plays but would need work on his in-bounds plays. This is good news for the Pacers and should make the transition easy for Lawson coming into Indy. So if it was just the fit that was the problem in Houston, Lawson is in the perfect place to jump start his career.

“It’s a 20-game audition and also a chance to win,” Lawson stated while meeting with the media this morning. He has the rest of this season to rebuild his reputation before free agency, but Lawson seems just as interested in winning basketball games which is good news for the Pacers as they fight for a playoff spot in the East.

He’s also friends with a few Pacers on the team including Paul George and 2 of the 3 Hills (George and Jordan), so chemistry shouldn’t be an issue coming in. No one in the Rockets organization said he was a problem in the locker room.

The idea of having a energized, Nugget-version of Ty Lawson into the Pacers second unit is mouth watering. The healthy bench lineup should look like this: PG Ty Lawson, SG Rodney Stuckey, SF CJ Miles, PF Lavoy Allen, C Jordan Hill. Stuckey gets to play his typical position of off guard again with a fast point guard that pushes the pace and can set up his teammates. It should help this bench unit a ton to have someone to help set them up for open shots. This could be a very exciting and fun to watch second unit. Once again, this all depends on the Nugget Ty showing up, but Vogel will be giving him every opportunity to be that player again for the Pacers the rest of the season.

So, to recap, the optimism meter is pointing upward for the acquisition of Lawson for the Pacers. He’s back in an offense that he’s had major success in, will have the ball in his hands while he’s on the court, and seems eager and excited to win basketball games by contributing to a potentially fun second unit. Now, it’s time to see if he can turn his season around and help the Pacers get into the postseason.

6:15 PM

Ty Lawson with the official team picture. Interesting how close he was to be drafting by the Pacers that when Tyler Hansbrough was announced, Lawson and his family cheered when hearing the “Ty” part thinking he had been drafted. Who knows where the Pacers would be had they chosen Ty over Tyler? George Hill might have never become a Pacer. Maybe the Pacers keep Kawhi Leonard? One pick changes everything. I probably shouldn’t think about this too much.

6:30 PM

Always a bummer to face the Spurs at full force. They’re on pace for 70 wins this season. Yikes.

The bench isn’t at full strength tonight as Lavoy Allen and CJ Miles will both be out. Rodney Stuckey, who was questionable, will play. This will likely mean more Solomon Hill playing at the 4 as the other Pacers big men (Shayne Whittington and Rakeem Christmas) are in Ft. Wayne with the Mad Ants.

6:38 PM

This is an interesting thought as Stuckey has been forced to be the backup point guard for the Pacers when he’s been healthy this season. Last year, he strived with CJ Watson taking the point duties. Stuckey’s main issue this year compared to last has been twofold: health and his 3-point shooting went into the tank. Lawson could help set him up with some easy corner threes and by running in transition.

During Game

7:18 PM – Pacers 12, Spurs 4

Pacers playing like, “Ty Lawson? We don’t need no Ty Lawson. Watch us walk all over the Spurs!” Great start for the Pacers. Danny Green starting out cold with 3 missed threes.

7:27 PM – Pacers 17, Spurs 8

Lawson looking like, “Man, I didn’t think I was joining a team that would get off to such a hot start on the Spurs! Damn!”

7:30 PM

Ty Lawson enters the game for the first time. The Pacers are so anxious to run with their new point guard that they forget to rebound the ball first.

Ty Lawson ends the first quarter with an assist to Rodney Stuckey wide open for a three. Lawson got to the rim, but made the pass back out to Stuckey. If he can make plays like that often, Pacers may have gotten a steal.

Pacers up 25-13 at the end of the first quarter.

7:36 PM

Myles Turner gets a block and Lawson hustles to save it. He sets up Jordan Hill for a pretty finish on the other end. Ty goes up for his first shot attempt on his next drive to the rim, but looks like he got pushed but no call.

Showing enough chemistry already to find a couple of assists is a great sign for Lawson. Said he was comfortable with playing in Shaw’s offense for a couple seasons and so far it shows. Looked comfortable in his first 6 minutes, but now he’s getting looked at by the trainer. May be related to his fall on his drive earlier.

7:45 PM

Well, that was a really fun six minutes! Let’s hope we get to see more soon.

All signs were positive from Ty Lawson in those first six minutes that the Pacers were getting someone that was going to play much more like Denver Ty than Houston Ty. It would be a shame if whatever injury is ailing him keeps him out for long.

Pacers up 45-32 at halftime, but word is Ty Lawson’s night is over.

Lawson’s debut was a fun five minutes and let’s hope the foot sprain isn’t too serious and we’ll get to see much more of Lawson in a Pacers uniform. The second unit an full strength could actually be a strength for the team if it gets healthy.

Ty Lawson’s final numbers: 2 really nice assists that set up 5 points and 1 rebound.

End of Debut Diary.

Lots of time left but calling it on the post with Lawson out.

 

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