Sacramento Kings guard Ty Lawson came into this season hoping to get his confidence back after a rough 2015-16 campaign that was split between stints with the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers.
After a slow start to the season, Lawson has seemed to settle into head coach Dave Joerger's system and hit a groove off the bench. He's currently averaging 9.1 points, 4.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals and shooting 43 percent from the field in 24 minutes per game. Though still not close to his production in the 2014-15 season with the Denver Nuggets (15.2 points and 9.6 assists per game), his stats are mostly all up from last year. In addition, he has been sparking the Kings offense off the bench by attacking the basket and finding open cutters. He scored 22 points to go along with 7 assists and 4 rebounds Monday against the Chicago Bulls.
Lawson spoke to Sactown Royalty about what he has got out of this season and what he thinks about the possibility of coming back to Sacramento next season after his one-year contract is up.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
Coming into this season you admitted that you had lost your confidence. What has this season done for you in terms of regaining your confidence?
I think it’s back. You read a lot of stuff on Twitter and Instagram, start second guessing yourself. I did that for like a year, honestly, the beginning of this year a little bit too, if I missed a shot ... I would be hesitant, now I’m just back to myself like I need to shoot it, whatever happens happens. I’ve been shooting 45, 40-something percent my whole career so just play my game.
Your numbers are up pretty much across the board from last season other than three-point percentage. What are you trying to do to bring that up and is there a reason why your shot has been off from three?
That’s probably the last part of like I said, my confidence where it’s at. If I miss one, if I’m wide open I’ll be hesitant on the second one and second guess it. That’s probably the last part of where my game needs to be back at. So been working in the gym and shooting a lot of threes. I realize also why I second guess - I didn’t jump on my shot. If you go look at my film, every three pointer I shoot I’m barely jumping and now I think I fixed that.
I know you were considering going overseas to play in the offseason and the Kings gave you a chance. Would you like to be back here next season?
Oh yeah. I was about to go to China … right before I was about over to sign, the Kings called, New Orleans called. I was talking to both of them. Came to visit them, they liked me … I ended up coming here because I felt like we could win enough games to be in the playoffs. I would like to come back here, it’s a good team, good organization ... they have a good fan base, they have a new arena, they want to win so I like it here.
Was it difficult for you accepting the bench role after Darren Collison came back?
Not at all, I’m still playing 30 minutes a game, 25 or whatever.
You and Willie Cauley-Stein have developed some good chemistry on the floor together. It seems like he’s catching lobs left and right from you. How did you get that going and what did you say to him?
I think it is more like communication. We’re on the court together. He reminds me a lot of Kenneth Faried … He comes off the screen and if he rolls hard he’s going to get a lob, he’s going to put a lot of pressure on the defense … if the person is showing ahead of him he should slip and get a lob or a dunk that way. Or if somebody comes early, spin off him and there’s nobody behind him, get a lob. So just working on things. I feel like he can be a big-time player in this league. I tell him all the time, ‘you could make $100 million next contract if you just play like DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler.’ Kenneth made like $50 (million), but it was before the CBA. He could make a lot of money in this league so I’m just going to help him.
Earlier this season you talked about how the offense didn’t really have a lot of pace and you were kind of struggling. Things started clicking for you not long after that though. What changed?
I’m not going to lie, I deferred to big Cuz [DeMarcus Cousins] ... it was just me, I felt like in my head I had to get him the ball ... I felt like I was just doing that way too much ... sometimes you just got to be aggressive and let the game tell you what to do ... So now I run plays I like and I still make sure he’s involved, but just make sure I get pace in the game because if you come down and play slow like that all the time they will be able to box us in … we’re not playing with pace as much as we should and we don’t know the plays. You watch the tape, there’s at least 10 to 15 plays where somebody is not on [the same] page, we’ll get a bad shot, or a turnover, or they get leak outs.
Is there anyone in this locker room you talk to a lot or lean on for advice/confidence?
Not really, not too much advice. I know what I’ve got to do. Watch a lot of film and I see it. I see what I’m doing different or I wasn’t doing. I keep talking to myself, I talk to myself most of the time: ‘Just keep doing what you are doing, keep working,’ stuff like that ... I’m cool with everybody on the team, but it’s just something I got to deal with.
How often do you watch film?
I watch film every day, even at halftime. You see one of the coaches bring me an iPad, I look at like, oh when I came off a screen I could have shot here, shot here, attack here. Mostly just being aggressive. I looked at my old film, had to go back to the Denver days. Did I actually do this in the playoffs? Did I score 35 and 10 against Golden State? So I looked at it to see what I was doing different. Instead of coming off screens going downhill, I was going wide looking for the pass too much. It’s just little things I was doing.