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How Important is Ty Lawson?

Last spring I maintained that Lawson's decision to spurn the NBA was at least as important as Tyler Hansbrough's because of the different skills Lawson brings to the offense. As the point guard Lawson is vested with pushing the offense and distributing the basketball while minimizing turnovers. So far this season Lawson has been effective except for the turnover category which has been a tad high. Sunday night versus Clemson I thought Lawson was pressing a bit but had a solid game with 16 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds but had five turnovers. However the game winner by Ellington exhibited Lawson's importance to this team that goes well beyond the assist he was credited with by passing the ball to the Tar Heel two guard. This still shot of the YouTube video illustrates how dangerous Clemson thought Lawson was to penetrate to the hoop, so much so, two defenders reacted to him getting past James Mays at the top of the key.


The three Clemson players are circled in orange and Ellington is circled in blue. Mays was beaten off the dribble and Raymond Sykes reacts to cover Lawson. The third Clemson player highlighted is Cliff Hammonds who was assigned to guard Ellington but when Lawson starts his drive he reacts to Lawson instead of staying with his man who floats out to the wing wide open. Lawson makes a great pass over to Ellington after the defense collapses which is contested by Potter. Ellington catches it and makes a clutch shot to win the game.

While Ellington was having a huge night, that shot was completely facilitated by the fear on the part of the Clemson players that Lawson would drive the lane and get to the hoop for a layup to win the game. There are very few point guards in the country that put this kind of pressure on an opposing defense.