Ty Lawson – Worth a Top 10 Pick?Posted: June 16, 2010
IndyStar.com’s Mike Wells has reported that the Denver Nuggets are trying to acquire a top 10 pick in the draft and are offering Ty Lawson in return. The Indiana Pacers hold the 10th selection and are said to be interested in Lawson. Also, according to Wells, the Pacers have reached out to the New Orleans Hornets about acquiring Darren Collison. The Pacers were an awful 32 – 50 last year, so changes are needed. Indiana has been a bad team for a while now, so it is clear they could use some help evaluating their options.
As you can see, Ty Lawson was the most productive player (per minute) of these four players. To add some context Darren Collison was a rookie and TJ Ford struggled to stay healthy, with either of these factors you can expect a player’s WP48 to be lower. However, Ty Lawson was also a rookie and struggled with injuries (missing 17 games). Despite this, overall Lawson was still more productive than the other three point guards (He was even better in the 8 games in which he was the starter). The difference in production is mainly attributable to Lawson being above average with respect to shooting efficiency and avoiding turnovers. Collison was above average in regards to shooting efficiency but struggled mightily in protecting the basketball. Watson and Ford were below average in both areas. It doesn’t take a genius to note that making the shots you take and avoiding turnovers are two of the most important aspects involved in winning on the court (Actually, one genius made such an observation – HERE).
It is clear that acquiring Ty Lawson is the path the Pacers should take but is he worth the 10th selection in the draft? John Hollinger rated Lawson as the best player, statistically, in the 2009 draft (insider access required). WoW had Lawson ranked 3rd behind DeJuan Blair and Blake Griffin.
Did this turn out to be the case? It did. According to wins produced Lawson was the second most productive rookie (per minute) of anyone who played at least one thousand minutes (Behind only DeJuan Blair, Blake Griffin didn’t play a game). His college numbers predicted Lawson would be worth a top ten pick in last years draft and he produced like one. The reason he slipped in the draft was that many teams felt he was injury prone and that his short stature and short arms would diminish his effectiveness at the NBA level. So far the injury prone label has turned out to be valid, he did miss 17 games as a rookie. The height and wingspan critiques are overblown but might have some validity as well. Lawson was average in regards to rebounding, as well as below average in generating steals and blocking shots, these three things can logically be linked to size and wingspan. So maybe those physical measures are not “optimal” for a point guard but he does other things well enough to make up for any “shortcomings.”
But what about this years draft? Coming out of North Carolina as a junior Ty Lawson sported a fantastic 15.6 PAWS40 (Position adjusted win score per 40 minutes). In PAWS40 terms he would be considered the best point guard available in the 2010 draft (Yes, that includes John Wall). His PAWS40 is essentially the same as DeMarcus Cousins who was the most productive player in college basketball last year. It is clear that Lawson was worthy of a top ten selection last year and the same is true this year. It also helps that we’ve actually seen Lawson be successful in the NBA. So if you are the Indiana Pacers and are in need of a quality point guard, trading the tenth pick to Denver for Ty Lawson should be the easiest decision you make this off-season. Now if someone could convince them to stop playing Danny Granger at power forward they could be looking up for next season.