Denver Nuggets: Should Ty Lawson Be Considered A Star?


Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets in a Jan. 25, 2011, game against the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Keith Allison/

Many, and I mean many, are under the impression that the Denver Nuggets lack a star. You know, a Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. There are a handful of others, but pundits and fans continue to claim that the Nuggets don’t have a star.

No, George Karl doesn’t have a LeBron, Kevin Durant or Kobe at his disposal, mind you. It’s only so often that those types of players come along. But there are several other second-tier superstars.

Here’s an interesting question: Is Ty Lawson in the second class of stars?

Really, Ty Lawson. He isn’t a household name, but his numbers over the Nuggets’ 15-game winning streak, indicate that he should be getting more respect than he has been.

Since Feb. 23 (when Denver’s streak began), Lawson is averaging 19.7 points (16th in NBA) and 6.1 assists per game and he’s doing so in an efficient fashion, shooting more than 50 percent from the field.

In March, specifically, he’s averaging 18.4 points, which ranks 22nd in the league. More importantly, and more notably, his scoring output surpasses Jrue Holiday (16.4), Chris Paul (17.9) and Brandon Jennings (16.1). Those three are loosely described as stars, some more than others, yet Lawson is outperforming them, without much credit being thrown his way.

There are the intangibles to consider:

Lawson isn’t the floor general Paul, who’s averaging 10.8 assists in March, is. CP3 has established himself as one of basketball’s best floor generals and is running a well-oiled machine in Los Angeles. Lawson isn’t quite on that level yet and to his credit, very few are. But for reference, he’s averaging six assists to just 1.8 turnovers per game in March, which isn’t too shabby of a mark.

It’s not necessarily the stats, though. It’s the that fact that Lawson is overlooked as a star, when he’s producing like–and better than a handful–of already established stars. And the fact that he’s doing all of this during amidst Denver’s 15-game winning streak makes his play all the more impressive.

Ty Lawson is no Chris Paul, but he’s on his way. Photo Credit: Keith Allison,

So, why isn’t Lawson considered a star yet?

Well, his usage percentage is fairly low compared to a few star point guards. His usage rate is 22.4 percent, compared to John Wall’s 27.5 percent, Tony Parker’s 28.1 percent or Kyrie Irving’s 29.8 percent.

The truth is, Lawson isn’t expected to carry the Nuggets’ offense. His usage rate speaks to that and the general eyeball test renders the same results. Even over Denver’s 15-game winning streak Lawson’s usage rate sits at a mere 23.2 percent, which indicates that a good chunk of his points come from spot-ups or shots that he doesn’t create for himself. He’s scoring, but he isn’t scoring like a superstar would.

Lawson’s scoring outburst has also been over a relatively short sample size. For the year, he’s averaging 16.9 points. But that mark is heavily boosted by his play over the past month-plus. In reality, it wasn’t until lately that he became a scoring threat, as he averaged just 14.1 points over his first 40 games of the season. A two-point jump is big.

The modern-day point guard can score at will if necessary, but that’s not a required trait. Big assist totals are still more than welcomed, if not preferred. Lawson, however, does a bit of both, but neither one great, at least consistently.

Karl’s balanced roster and offensive set-up does effect Lawson’s numbers. It’s not every day you run across a roster that consists of seven players with usage percentages north of 20. I guess you could say that that’s where the Nuggets get their “no-star” reputation from.

While one could only speculate, it’s safe to say that with more freedom in a system where Lawson is the primary No. 1, his numbers would see an uptick on a consistent basis. Frankly, who wouldn’t benefit from those types of circumstances?

But for now, Ty Lawson is not a superstar. He’s picked up his game lately and the Nuggets are clearly reaping the benefits, but he’s not a star yet. But at 25 years old, he could easily reach stardom.