In the ramp up to the 2008-09 basketball season, I will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at junior PG Ty Lawson
Weight: 195 lbs
2007-08 Stats: 32 gms, 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.36 A/TO, 36% 3P%
Career: 70 gms, 11.3 ppg, 5.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.47 A/TO, 35% 3P%
What Happened Last Season
Ty Lawson, at times, showed incredible flashes of brilliance. Then he got injured. In November, Lawson had an excellent game versus Old Dominion in Las Vegas where he posted 23 points and six assists. In the two games prior to that he had nine and eight assists respectively. Then Lawson tweaked the ankle in the first two minutes versus BYU, missed the Ohio State game and returned for Kentucky. From there he was very good, a tad turnover prone at times, but good. Then came two breakout performances. Versus Miami, Lawson had 23 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and only one turnover. In the next game at Miami, Lawson went for 16 points, 10 assists, zero turnovers and three steals. It was clear Lawson had found his groove. Then he got injured and missed the next six games. When Lawson returned he was never the same. He was quick but not explosive and it was apparent the ankle was not quite 100%. There were also rumors and angst swirling about concerning Lawson's lack of toughness which later fed into the whole pre-draft process. Then came the citation on a traffic stop which apparently cost Lawson a high pick in the draft and just like that he is back in the barn for another season.
Outlook For This Season
Lawson has a lot to prove which is interesting statement to make for someone who was regarded as a potential top 15 draft pick until CHPD stopped his car for a noise ordinance. The questions abound concerning Lawson's focus on team goals, his willingness to play defense all out, how well he gets along with other players including Tyler Hansbrough and the general sense he lacks maturity and toughness. Truthfully, all these points will either be a big deal or nothing at all which is largely tied to whether the team is winning in a dominant manner. On the court, I fully expect Lawson to be back in full form but adding some more aggressive tendencies on both ends of the floor. The defensive intensity keys off the point guard and if he can disrupt the ball as it comes up it tosses the opposing team completely out of sync with what they want to do. Also, if Lawson plays top notch defense with his speed there are really only a handful of point guards in the country that can handle it. An opposing offense whose point guard is compromised is a crippled offense which leads to turnovers and Lawson running the fast break which is also nearly impossible to stop. Lawson should step up his three point shooting as well making him tough to defend when he has the basketball.
Chemistry, toughness and buying into the team concepts. Of the three players who tested the waters, I have little concern over how Wayne Ellington and Danny Green will fit back into the team concept. Lawson on the other hand worries me a bit due to the lack of toughness and maturity he has shown over the past year. Everyone knows he came back because going to the NBA was not an option given the events of the summer so the question remains what kind of attitude does he bring with him. As I said, winning or losing will determine how much that is an issue or rather how much the media will make it an issue. At this point I am going err on the side of optimism and say I believe Lawson can be what this teams needs him to be in every way.
The second coming of Raymond Felton, 2005. Barring that, the second coming of Ty Lawson versus Miami and BC last season which should be about the same thing.