First, let’s look the Ty Lawson, the point guard that Houston traded 4 players to acquire. This isn’t the NFL, so there’s not much of a risk when it comes to a suspension. Plus, the Rockets negotiated for next year on his deal to be non-guaranteed, to cover themselves.
Lawson dropped 15 points per game, and his 9.6 dimes rank 3rd in the NBA, only behind Chirs Paul and John Wall. Sure, he could improve upon his shooting from the line and the arc, something I expect him to do on a better team for a better coach in Kevin McHale. It was a terrible season for the Denver Nuggets, and a distracting campaign with Lawson’s DUIs. Denver has gone through recent struggles since the departure of George Karl, but at their peak, Lawson was starting at the point for a 57-win team in 2012. Now, Karl is in Sacramento, which is why they were interested in the guard before signing Rajon Rondo.
Those numbers, to get straight to the point, garner some comparison to Chris Paul of the Clippers. I’m going straight to the top, arguably the best point guard of the past decade, Paul led the league with 10.2 assists (0.6 more than Lawson). They averaged about the same amount of minutes, but it was Lawson that had a better assists to turnover ratio, doing so on a lottery team.
The reason that Lawson was even on the block is because of his repeated run-ins with the law. What’s ironic, is that Lawson shot a promotion with Lyft, a driving service, and rode around with a driver for a day. The latest incident nearly got him waived by Denver. Instead, the former UNC Tarheel gets a fresh start with the Rockets.
You should be familiar with the Rockets by now. James Harden is one of the leading scorers in all of basketball, and Dwight Howard is still the best center in the game. They displayed incredible heart after trailing 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers, to win 3 straight to advance to the Western Conference Finals, before running out of gas against the eventual-champion Warriors.
H-Town has the role players that many rivals covet: Patrick Beverly, Corey Brewer, and Trevor Ariza.
Beverly missed the WCF series to injury, now he returns to the bench as arguably, the best backup point in the league. Known for his defense, you will see plenty of action with Beverly and Lawson, which would slide Harden down to small forward. The Rockets would rather play east coast ball, slow the game down and bang bodies all day, but they did adapt and adopt a smaller lineup. You can do that with Howard, who once led the Orlando Magic to a finals’ appearance. Howard did get banged up last postseason and still played through it. They lost Josh Smith, but overall, re-signing their own and trading for Lawson keeps them among the contenders next season.
Lawson gives them another proven scorer, and one of the leading table setters. Another option to space the floor for Harden to operate. Remember, as good as Harden is with the ball and scoring, he’s unselfish and Lawson should keep him fresher than he was at any point last season. Howard may not have to run the floor as much, if he grabs the board and passes it quickly, Lawson will find guys like Brewer and Ariza for easy buckets.
The top teams in the west all look tough to beat: Golden State won the title and traded for veteran Gerald Wallace, San Antonio brought LaMarcus Aldridge and David West on board, while the L.A. Clippers snagged Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, and Josh Smith.
If you’re a die-hard fan like me that believes the Warriors caught every break last postseason (faced injured opponents in every series), then you can see why I rank the top of the west as follows: Clippers, Spurs, Rockets, then Warriors.