Houston Rockets: Why Ty Lawson Isn’t Meshing With The Team

Feb 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Ty Lawson (3) dribbles the ball as Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Ty Lawson (3) dribbles the ball as Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

So for those of you who read my last post or scanned my Twitter feed, you would know that I am a huge Ty Lawson fan. After the performances he has dished up this year, followed by the one yesterday against the Golden State Warriors, it would be a fair assumption that there is a dwindling number of fans for him who wear the Houston red.

Let me give you a bit of background before I delve into why Lawson can be the key to the Rockets success.

So I have a twin brother and he is a Denver Nuggets fan — don’t ask me why — and Lawson was his hero. He still has his jumper up on the wall in our house half a year after he was traded. Obviously with him being a Nuggets fan, I have watched many a game in which Ty has taken control and dragged his team across the line on his 5’10” back.

In 2013-14, Ty led the Nuggets in points, assists and steals and in 2014-15 he averaged 9.6 assists on a team that won 30 games. He is undeniably one of the most talented point guards in the league, don’t remember how good he was?

Maybe a little trip down memory lane will help:

This happened at Toyota Center so we can rule out that he doesn’t like playing in our own arena! But there’s a couple of things that peaked my interest in this clip.

Look how easily he got to the rim and created his own offense.

Harden begged for a secondary play maker, and he got one who also can create his own looks to boot. His little pull up jumper just inside the three-point line is his signature move and he is so good at it, I think he made a tremendous impression on Daryl Morey because of this attribute.

That’s why he’s here.

Aside from him creating his own offense, look how brilliant a passer he is, he knows where to move and knows where his teammates will be. His little pick-and-pops with Darrell Arthur interest me as I can see Lawson and Harden really mastering that with Ty as the primary ball handler. Harden actually ran this play with Patrick Beverley last season so I really don’t understand why this isn’t being used.

Think about this, when Harden screens his man is not going to leave him otherwise he gets a layup and most likely an and-one, so this creates space for a Lawson drive or his hanging jumper. That is an absolute killer combo and I don’t know if it’s Harden or J.B. Bickerstaff not allowing this to happen but it’s so frustrating that this play isn’t just run at least 20 times a game.

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This video also highlights how Lawson ignited so many fast breaks for the Nuggets with his pace and pinpoint passing. That’s another thing we haven’t seen; however, it seems to be a problem with the Rockets as a whole as they really don’t run the floor either way.  The Morey-Ball code however states that transition points are effective, so why Ty isn’t flinging passes as he sprints up the floor astounds me.

Just look at his dump passes to J.J. Hickson and his alley-oop to Kenneth Faried. Put Dwight Howard in those situations and he will hammer it down with so much force that the backboard will shatter.

Okay, maybe not but he can try.

This will have a two-fold effect, defenses have to block passing lanes for the point guard and have to keep Dwight away from the rim. What does this do? Open space for Harden!!!!! He honestly doesn’t realize how much more difficult he is making it for himself by playing 1-on-5 and leaving Ty in the corner helpless.

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The most compelling part of all was in Clyde Drexler‘s commentary in last night’s telecast, he says “take the ball out of Ty Lawson‘s hands and let someone else beat you.” Normally I take what Clyde says with a grain of salt but he really hit the nail on the head with this one.

Ty will rarely damage you without the ball in his hands, unless he manages to hit 10 spot up 3’s in a row like he did against the Wolves in 2011, he’s not a lock-down defender, he’s not a knockdown shooter, but he’s definitely a distributor and an aggressive gunslinger that will pursue his own shot in transition.

Let me tell you, if you take the ball out of his hands, you’re removing one of the most damaging players in the game, maybe in essence the Rockets have beaten themselves by doing so.

So, these are Ty’s strengths and every member of the Rockets staff seems to be ignoring them. Where do the Rockets go now? Do they trade him? Do they embrace him? Ty is a borderline All-Star and he has proven himself in this league.

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  • Trading him achieves nothing as the Rockets would get less back than they gave the Nuggets for Lawson. The Rockets need to do one thing, and that is help Ty. This man can be the key to all of Houston’s issues. Get the team running in transition, let Ty handle the ball, run pick and rolls with Harden, do what needs to be done for him to get his confidence back and this Houston team will be unstoppable.

    The Rockets are holding steady with 27-27 record and are teetering on the edge of a possible playoff berth — if they started today — one game away from the All-Star break.

    There is no point in continuing what has been a terrible disappointment of a season so we might as well change things up and pursue at least the 6th seed to avoid Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.

    I have a couple of ideas for the Rockets that could see an improvement in the team as a whole.

    Here they are:

    1. Plug Ty Lawson into the starting lineup — Beverley has become more and more one sided and his offense is floundering. Let Ty run the show from the point and let him take over possessions from Harden. Give him a chance to get a feel for the game and get some confidence before making him sit on the pine.
    2. DO NOT LET HARDEN TAKE OVER — Yes, Harden is a good passer, but he turns the ball over a lot and Lawson needs Harden to move off the ball for the offense to work. As long as no one sits in the corner not moving the offense will flow.
    3. Run the 1-2 Pick-and-Roll — I discussed it earlier and this could cause some serious problems for opposing defenses.

    Next: The Big Decision: Trade Beverley Or Lawson?

    Hopefully, we see some renewed faith in Ty and he can finally let his ability show on the floor once more. With a Big Three of Ty, Harden and Howard these Rockets could make a splash in the playoffs, but only if the Beard can play nice.

    What do you think? Let us know what you think the Rockets should do on Twitter @HouseofHouston  or send me a tweet on my personal handle. Alternatively voice your opinion below in the comments!