Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.
Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.
No. 39, Ty Lawson
After the Denver Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in February 2011, there was an air of uncertainty surrounding the Nuggets team.
They were left without a certified superstar, and many questioned whether a team of good but not great players could make a deep run in the playoffs.
Out of the messy wreckage of the Anthony saga emerged Ty Lawson.
Lawson had shown flashes in his first two seasons in the Mile-High City, but he never quite reached the dominant level he displayed during his award-winning collegiate career.
In the absence of Anthony, Lawson took his game to the next level and proved that he is capable of running the Nugget’s high-octane offence.
In the post Anthony era the Nuggets have lacked a superstar, but still have plenty of offensive options. This season, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Farried, JaVale McGee and new addition Nate Robinson will all want their touches.
Thankfully, Lawson is not stranger to running an offence full of scoring options. In high school, Lawson played AAU basketball with Kevin Durant. In college, he ran the offence for the championship-winning North Carolina team that featured the likes of Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis and Tyler Hansbrough.
Last season, Lawson’s passing abilities – 6.9 assists per game – were good enough for 15th best in the league, but he is also more than capable of getting his own – 16.7 points per.
Throughout his career, Lawson has proved, despite his short stature, he can be an efficient scorer in a league of giants.
Lawson uses his combination of elite speed, slick handles and deadeye shooting to torment defenders. Play him too close and he will blow past you and finish at the rim or find an open teammate. Play him too loose and he will light you up from beyond the arc.
Since his days at UNC, Lawson has demonstrated an ability to perform when the game is on the line. Many critics wondered whether his clutch abilities would translate into NBA success because of his height (or rather, lack of it).
After Anthony left, Lawson was a huge part of the Nuggets team that pushed the Lakers to seven games, putting up 19 points and six points per game against higher seeded Lakers.
His play was so inspiring it earned him a four-year, $48 million extension from the Nuggets front office.
Last season, the Nuggets gelled more as a team, and Lawson was a critical part of their unlikely march to the third seed in the Western Conference, ranking 19th in the league for Offensive Win Shares (5.6).
In the playoffs, Lawson again showed he could take his game to new levels in the postseason, averaging 21.3 points and eight assists a contest.
This season, the combination of Lawson and Nate Robinson should prove to be one of the most electrifying backcourts in the league. They lack size, but they should not be taken lightly. As Robinson has often said his game is “heart over height”, and Lawson is no different.
The Nuggets may have lost Andre Iguodala for the upcoming season. However, the last time Lawson lost a high profile teammate, he was able to take his game to the next level. This season, Nuggets fans will be hoping Lawson can take another step toward the upper echelon of NBA guards.