HOUSTON, TX -- The Houston Rockets have reached a buy-out agreement with Ty Lawson and he is now a free agent. The Indiana Pacers could really see great benefit from acquiring Lawson for their bench. Lawson could be a key contributor for Indiana's bench, which could take the team to the next level since they have been plagued with injuries to their key bench play-makers. On-paper, Lawson could really help balance out the team's bench and really utilize the team's bench players to get the most out of their skill-sets.
The Pacers have been plagued with injuries to their key bench players such as Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. This has caused the bench to be practically absent of a consistent and reliable play-making option that can not only setup his own shot, but run the offense and set up his teammates. Lawson would be able to do all of that and more. This could be a role that Lawson could really help rehab his image to restore his public perception and value. Whether that would result in Lawson coming back to the Pacers beyond this season or not, he has the potential to be a big asset for the bench for the remainder of this year.
Indiana has been searching for a true point guard for years. Lawson is the very definition of a true point guard. He was a highly successful floor general for the Denver Nuggets from 2010-11 to 2015-16. In his final season with the Nuggets, Lawson ranked among the elite levels in the NBA by averaging 9.6 assists per game. A top tier facilitator would certainly take the Pacers to the next level as a team for a variety of reasons. The most likely of scenarios is that Lawson would spend most of his time with the bench unit. That would ideal since they need a facilitator badly.
Ty Lawson 2015 Season Highlights:
Acquiring Ty Lawson as the floor general for the bench would allow for the Pacers to utilize their individual skill sets. Rodney Stuckey would be able to move to the backup shooting guard position if Lawson was signed. That is a much more comfortable role for Stuckey and it would allow for him to focus on scoring. Putting Stuckey at the shooting guard spot would allow for the team to use C.J. Miles at the second unit small forward role. That is key because it means that the team wouldn't have to give Chase Budinger, Solomon Hill, or Glenn Robinson III any rotation minutes for the remainder of the season.
A bench perimeter of Ty Lawson, Rodney Stuckey, and C.J. Miles would be a drastic change from what is currently being used. The versatility of these players would eliminate the terrible perimeter floor spacing, bad off-ball movement, and the inability to make open jump shots on a consistent basis. The players on the floor would actually be assets on both sides of the ball and would make their teammates better, which is something that isn't happening right now.
Projected Depth Chart
|Point Guard||George Hill||Ty Lawson|
|Shooting Guard||Monta Ellis||Rodney Stuckey|
|Small Forward||Paul George||C.J. Miles|
|Power Forward||Myles Turner||Lavoy Allen|
|Center||Ian Mahinmi||Jordan Hill|
Analyzing Lawson's Potential Fit
Lawson is good at making things happen with the ball in his hands. He can consistently make mid-range jump shots off the dribble, get to the rim and finish, run the pick-and-roll and exploit the defense, run the fast break, and be a floor general for the offense. Lawson is capable of moving without the ball and spacing the floor, but he is clearly at his best when is making things happen with the ball in his hands. Luckily for Lawson and the Pacers, the team needs a player like Lawson to have the ball in his hands for their bench unit.
Indiana has had a problem with taking care of the basketball, quality pick-and-roll offense, making perimeter jump shots, and being able to effectively get results from their half-court offense. As a high volume floor general in his final season with Denver, Lawson averaged: 15.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.1 blocks. His shooting percentages were: 43.6% field goal, 46.3% 2-point, 34.1% 3-point, and 73.0% free throw. That shows that Lawson is very capable of providing a big boost to a majority of Indiana's weaknesses as a team.
Since the Rockets have not seen any actual success with Ty Lawson and James Harden on the floor at the same time, it is unlikely that Lawson would see much time with the Pacers starters. That is of course unless Lawson manages to completely dominate his role on the bench and the team feels that he could be a good fit as a floor general with the starting group. But with 22-games left in the season, there wouldn't be enough time for Lawson to earn that type of role. This makes it important to evaluate his fit with the bench unit.
Rodney Stuckey has been at his best when he has been able to play a traditional shooting guard role. That means that he doesn't have to worry about running the half-court offense and can focus on scoring, which he is far better at doing. Stuckey would be a good back-court fit with Lawson too since he has shown that he can catch-and-shoot well from the perimeter and mid-range, he can move without the ball, and he can space the floor. Stuckey would get a great passing teammate that could give him the ball when cutting and using off-ball screens as well. It would allow for Lawson to take the reigns as the floor general and Stuckey to go back to doing what he does best.
C.J. Miles is best when he is able to make catch-and-shoot jump shots from the perimeter and mid-range. Lawson's ability to attack defenses off the dribble and cause defensive breakdowns would allow for Miles to have plenty of opportunities for clean shot attempts. Miles is a capable scorer in terms of attacking his man off the dribble, making off-dribble mid-range shots, and finishing the rim. Lawson would also give Miles the ability to receive quality passes when cutting and using off-ball screens., which essentially would lead to quality offensive sequence and quality shots. When paired with Stuckey's offensive versatility, the Pacers would have a very talented and potentially cohesive bench perimeter that can take pressure off of their starting unit.
Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen would see plenty of benefit from the acquisition of Lawson as well. Lawson's ability to break down a defense would allow for both Hill and Allen to get quality shot attempts near the basket and off of the catch-and-shoot in mid-range. This could be done from on-ball screens, isolation from Lawson, or a set offensive sequence, but regardless, it's as simple as this, Lawson is the type of player that would be able to get the bench unit quality shot attempts that they are best at taking. This is something that the Pacers currently don't have.
There is far more to the situation than just being a floor general and setting up his teammates. Lawson is a good scorer and can give a team isolation offense. He is great at getting to the basket and finishing, making mid-range shots off the dribble, and he is capable of making perimeter jump shots off the dribble as well. Indiana doesn't really have a dynamic isolation player on the bench, but that's common for NBA teams since it is a luxury that most teams don't have.
Another aspect of the situation is that each perimeter bench player would be facing off against a better match-up since they would be able to use their physical intangibles to attack their man. At the shooting guard position, Stuckey would be able to utilize size and strength to get the rim and beat his man in general. Miles would be able to use his quickness and overall athleticism to attack opposing small forwards more effectively as well. It goes back to balance, Lawson's presence would allow for Stuckey and Miles to go back to better fitting positions to balance the team.
Ty Lawson's off-ball skill is solid and would be an upgrade in the grand scheme of things. Lawson is a decent catch-and-shoot player and can space the floor, but that wouldn't be really needed with the bench unit outside of Stuckey driving the lane and Hill posting up. Lawson is pretty good at moving without the ball and spacing the floor, but he just hasn't really had a situation where he's had to do either very often. This hypothetical situation with the bench wouldn't be any different since his services would mainly be required with the ball in his hands and serving as a floor general. But it is nice to have these skills for when they are needed since they will need to be used at times.
Lawson being the backup point guard would shuffle the bench unit to positions that would help the defense. Stuckey's size, athleticism, and skill set is best served defensively at the shooting guard position. It would help Stuckey since he would face slower offensive players. C.J. Miles is big enough to defend small forwards effectively and his skill set and athleticism could become a bigger asset at that position. Lawson isn't known for his defense, but he has the tools (athleticism, muscle, weight, etc.) to be a good defender. Frank Vogel is known for getting the best out of his players on the defensive end of the floor, so that could factor into his overall potential for the team.
If signing Ty Lawson worked out, the Pacers could really find a diamond in the rough. But of course, this signing wouldn't solve all of the team's problems. However, the team has been searching for a true point guard for many years, in fact, it almost seems as if they haven't had one since Mark Jackson. A good situation this year could result in Lawson coming back next season, which would be extremely valuable to the Pacers since this year's free agency class for point guards is dry. Lawson's goal could be to earn a starting spot for the 2016-17 season and that would be massive for the Pacers.