True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Point Guard Project - Ty Lawson

Welcome to the 11th edition of the Point Guard Project.

Previous participants:
PGP1 - John Lucas
PGP2 - Like Ridnour
PGP3 - Jrue Holiday
PGP4 - Rickey Rubio
PGP5 - Royal Ivey
PGP6 - Damian Lillard
PGP7 - Derek Fisher
PGP8 - Stephen Curry
PGP9 - Chauncey Billups
PGP10 - Derek Rose

Today we are joined by Ty Lawson

You might have heard the Miami Heat had a 27 game winning streak recently.
Well the Denver Nuggets weren't too shabby during that stretch either with a 15 game winning streak of their own. And Ty lawson had a lot to do with that winning. During that run, after which the Nuggets currently find themselves as the 3 seed in the western conference, Lawson averaged about 20 points and 6 assists a game.

Drafted 18th in '09 out of North Carolina (after leading them to a NCAA championship), Lawson is in his 4th year in the league. This season he is putting up career numbers: 16.9 points (on 46% shooting) and 6.9 assists a game.

He is listed at 5'11" (no sure if I believe that) and 195 ibs.

Mr. Lawson, welcome to the Point Guard Project

Summary of answers:
1) Grew up watching Allen Iverson & Michael Jordan. Tried to emulate Iverson and Chris Paul when he got into college.

2) First memorable point guard match-up: Chris Paul in New Orleans.
Chauncey Billups was hurt so he got to start and the first half was killing - like 17 points 5 assists! Paul only had 8 assists (only?). But in the second half he showed why he is Chris Paul - ended up with 30 and 12. Was definitely a battle though, he finished with 25 points & 7 assists.

3) Definition for the job of a point guard: be a manager, do what the team needs when they need it. Goes from setting people up for get easy shots to taking over games at a certain points. (When he refers to tonight having to take over a game - he was taking about his game in Boston, when he scored 29 points to go along with 8 assists and 6 rebounds).

4) Pass vs shoot: early in the game try to get people involved and see if they are knocking down shots. If people aren't knocking down shots you have to take it into your own hands. Most point guards can get to anywhere they want on the court. So once you get there you have to be able to knock down shots.

5) Typical workout Not too much ball handling - unless on the court playing pickup. Try different things, even in practice. Work more on Shooting: step backs & floaters. Also work on Passing with left hand. In the summer, make at least 500-600 shots a day. During the season make 100 a day after practice.

6) For aspiring point guards: Keep working on your craft. More ball handling- so you can get anywhere on the court. But once you get there you have to be able to knock down the shot. If you're a speedy point guard those are the two things that can make you deadly. One of the best at that right now is Kyrie Irving. He can get anywhere on the court and he can make the shoot. So you have to honor that. And when you do (honor the shot) he can go by you, so you are at his mercy.

Wouldn't you expect a player like Ty Lawson to grow up watching Iverson? A super quick guard that gets anywhere on the floor he wants to score? In fact, the more I interview point guards in the league - as the position has evolved into that of a scorer - the more I see how big of an influence Iverson really had on this generation.

A couple of things that are interesting to me.
Ty Lawson doesn't really work on ball handling. Now, I'm not sure how much he did when he was in high school or in college (in fact or aspiring points he says it's key), but it seems as a pro further development of this skill isn't a necessity for him. Kind of counter intuitive for a point guard, no? Well maybe not when you consider his speed and the advantage it grants him in terms of always having a step on his defender. In fact, in this case it makes sense that less is more. Why waste time with convoluted moves when you can simply blow by your man? And what is complicated about a quick change of direction to create space as your defender is still catching up to your initial move? And if worse comes to worse, just use a screen to either get by your man or create a mismatch on a switch.

Pretty straight forward no?

Perhaps more than anything, the essentials of ball handling for points are: changing speed, changing direction (a nice crossover does the trick most of the time - and doesn't have to be like Iverson's) - which is embellished by your speed, and mastery of the pick and roll. All of these are suffice to keep your defender at a disadvantage.

Of course, not everyone is as quick as Ty lawson. And I would argue these types of point guards might have to work on their craftiness and ball handling skills a little more. Would it make sense to say that there is an inverse correlation between a player's speed/athleticism and how many tricks they need to have with the ball? Of course, having speed/athleticism and skills are a defender's worst nightmare.

Regardless of how it is manifested, it is enlightening to hear Lawson say it is a necessity for point guards to be able to get to any spot on the floor. But while ball handling is an essential component to making that happen, being able to knock down shots is an essential component for taking advantage of making it happen. In fact, in his praising of Kyrie Irving, Lawson mentions how the defender "has to honor his shot." And this, perhaps more than anything is what puts the defender "at his mercy" and enables him to get by the defender.

How ironic.
A point guard has to be able to shoot to be effective. A point guard has to make the defense honor his scoring ability to be able to facilitate. Rather than running a team/offense and then taking what the defense gives you (if you're open, shoot) you have to make the defense play you (look to shoot) and then work off of that. Kind of turns the traditional notion of a point guard on it's head.

Truth be told, no matter how fast you are defenses can adjust how they play you. And if you can't shoot the ball a team will simply play off you several feet daring you to shoot. This is sort of the game plan when defending Rajon Rondo - which makes makes it even more amazing that he is still able to lead the league in assists. But if you can shoot, defenses sort of have to pick their poison between allowing you to penetrate and facilitate or score the ball on jump shots.

Finally, when to pass vs shoot seems to be an easy decision in this case. Early on, you're looking to get others involved and giving them the opportunity to makes plays. But if things aren't working out, you have to flip the switch and "take over the game."

Both attributes, in the right proportion, are essential to be successful: Make everyone around you better, but if need be score at will by getting anywhere you want on the floor.

Sounds fair enough for contemporary point guards.

Much thanks to Ty Lawson for his time!
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Point Guard Project!
Stay tuned for more!

No comments:

Post a Comment