Ty Lawson has had an interesting first year in Sacramento. At various points throughout his tenure here, you could argue for signing him to a long-term contract this summer just as easily as you could argue for cutting him on the spot, if that is any indication of how up and down things have been.
He’s had a couple of questionable off court moments. There was that one flight he missed earlier in the season, along with the much-more-alarming probation violation allegations, but to this point, nothing has come from any of that. It doesn’t appear as though he’s had a negative impact on the locker room. It doesn’t appear as though that stuff has been any sort of real distraction for the team. I’m not excusing his mistakes, but I don’t want to make it sound like he’s been some dark cloud for the Kings this season. It never looked like that was the case.
Outside of those off-court mishaps, he’s been a pretty good basketball player since joining the Sacramento Kings. If you’ve watched the team at all this season, you know what I’m talking about. He never really found his jumper, but his defense has been fine, his passing has been great, his energy has been great, his speed has been great, and as a backup point guard, you could do much, much worse than what Lawson has given the Kings for most of the season. Most.
I’ve noticed something since the All-Star break that I’ve been meaning to look into a little bit, and that is the regression of Ty Lawson.
This isn’t going to be some grand statistical takedown, but his play isn’t helping the Kings anymore. Maybe it was the realization that the playoff run was over, but something is different now. He doesn’t look like the same player.
In 12 games since the All-Star break, Lawson is still averaging a respectable 9.8 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game, but he’s only shooting .416 from the field, and a truly alarming .210 from three. He’s struggled with his shot all season, but that .416 post-all-star-break field goal percentage is lowest on the team aside from the barely-playing Langston Galloway. His .210 three-point percentage is lowest on the team by anyone who has attempted a three-pointer since the All-Star break. It’s really hard to shoot that poorly and maintain effectiveness as a lead guard.
His net rating and +/- has also seen an incredible drop off. In fairness to Lawson, the Kings have a bad roster right now, and for a player that relies so heavily on his passing, his teammates have a huge impact on his effectiveness. With that being said, he was very good for a decent portion of this season playing on a very undermanned bench unit that had no business being as decent as it was, so, he’s proven that he can play well with young and inexperienced players to an extent. That isn’t the only thing that is happening here.
Lawson’s net rating since the All-Star break is a team-low -14.9. Minus fourteen point nine! That is an alarming number for a veteran point guard you’re considering re-signing this summer. He’s a cumulative -108 since the All-Star break. That’s good for a team-low -9 per game.
The Kings are bad. I cannot stress that enough, so these sort of +/- or net rating numbers are skewed to a degree. Everyone is going to look a little bit worse than they would if they were on a better team, but I think it’s fair to criticize Lawson for being dead last in all of these categories. He’s one of your veteran leaders off the court, and as a point guard, a legitimate leader on it. He has to be better than this. He should be a bright spot for the Kings. He should be one of the players stepping up post-Cousins trade and with Rudy Gay out of the lineup. We just haven’t seen him do that.
We’ll see how these numbers look as the rest of this depressing season plays out, but as someone who has bounced back and forth from the Kings should probably bring back Lawson next season and it’s just not worth it, it’s too risky, and I’d rather not, I’m definitely leaning towards moving in a different direction at this point.
It looks like the Kings are going to be drafting a point guard with one of their two potential lottery selections in the draft this year, and I’d feel a lot more comfortable bringing back Darren Collison, or looking for a different veteran point guard in free agency, than giving any sort of long-term deal to Lawson. We shall see.