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Maryland native Lawson having solid rookie year

Denver Nuggets rookie Ty Lawson was disappointed that his left shoulder injury kept him from playing against the franchise he followed, but didn't necessarily root for, growing up in Clinton. His desire to at least feel like part of the action during the Nuggets' 97-87 win over the Washington Wizards could easily be seen as he dressed for the game - even though he had no chance of seeing the court.

"I went to Bullets games a lot, but I wasn't really a Wizards fan. I was more of a Michael Jordan fan, how everybody was probably back then," said Lawson. "But it's tough. You always want to play against the hometown team and do well against them."


Sorry we couldn't do this again, JaVale. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Lawson scored six points with three assists when the Nuggets lost to the Wizards last month, but he is anxious to return against any team after bruising his left shoulder in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 28 and missing the past nine games.

Before going down, Lawson was quietly putting together a solid rookie campaign serving as Chauncey Billups' backup. Lawson is averaging 9.0 points, 3.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds in just under 22 minutes per game, but his play has often been overshadowed by fellow rookie point guards Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry. He is shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 43.2 percent from beyond the three-point line and his player efficiency rating (16.78) is actually superior to those of Curry (15.37) and Jennings (14.81).

"It's a tough rookie class, it's a lot of good point guards, even down to Darren Collison," Lawson said. "He's playing well right now. It's one of the best point guard classes in the past 10 years or something like that. I just want to keep working hard and get to the top of it."

Lawson showed glimpses of what he was capable of doing in this league, when he averaged 19 points and 7.2 assists during a five-game stretch in late December and early January filling in for the injured Billups. He realizes that he has to take advantage of his limited opportunities playing behind an all-star and former NBA Finals most valuable player. Lawson is just the second rookie in the past three seasons to average at least 20 minutes a game on a division-leading team.

"Most rookies don't get drafted to a good team, unless you go to the second round, but it's just learning having fun, taking the whole experience in, because this is my dream," Lawson said. "I'm learning a lot from Chauncey and also playing with a good team. [Billups] is telling me, 'Just to play your game. Do what you did to get here.' "

Lawson said he slipping to 18th in the NBA draft after leading North Carolina to a national championship last year is driving him. "I got a big chip. That's what motivates me now, especially not making the rookie game, too," he said. "That's where my motivation comes from. This summer and just now, trying to get back and get better."

Lawson said this time of year makes him a bit nostalgia for March Madness, although it has been hard to watch his Tar Heels playing in NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament. But he said that he is focused on getting back on the court, so that he can go from winning an NCAA title to a NBA title. "Oh yeah, that's what I'm working for now. We've got a chance," Lawson said. "The toughest competition will be the Lakers - we kind of got their number now - and Dallas, but I think we've got a chance."


By Michael Lee  |  March 17, 2010; 7:44 PM ET
 
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Comments

It's one of the best point guard classes in the past 10 years or something like. I just want to keep working hard and get to the top of it."

And Ernie traded hos future point guard for MM who will walk at the end of the year and Foye who can't beat out a D League player?

Give Ernie a Raise?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 17, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

And Divi, I said it before and will say it again...draft big, buy small. most of these "great" rookie and 2nd year pgs will be available in a year either via free agency or trade. The truth is, there are always more 1s and 2s available than quality big men.

And how about this front court in 2 years:
C - McGee
PF - Cousins
SF - Blatche

Hell in 6 years, Blatche will only be 30, McGee 27 and Cousins 25.

Now that is a solid front court you can build around for years to come. What if you could drop OJ Mayo in at SG or get Durant and move him to the 2 and let him slide up to the 3? You have that team and you can get a quality PG.

PG are in abundance right now. Good big men are rare. Buy what is in oversupply (pgs)
Draft big men.

Trust me...you get a year or two down the line with too many big guys, you can trade for almost any sg you want and all but the allstar pgs.

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

.....Now that is a solid front court you can build around for years to come. What if you could drop OJ Mayo in at SG or get Durant and move him to the 2 and .....
Posted by: Blurred |

And then he woke-up....please LMAO

Posted by: dsquare | March 17, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Cousins is a head case and then hes gonna have money too.. Talent hes a good pick-up, mental state is another story. Think of all the trouble he can get into here in DC. I dont think hes a good fit at all. I think we should take a pass on him...

Posted by: dsquare | March 17, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't have mind seeing Unseld Sr,(Hell no not Jr), coach the recent Wiz. Unseld Sr. was a terrible GM but he sure got those bums he had to play hard every game on the defensive end, and he gave no quarter to the superstars either(see King, Bernard)

Posted by: G-Man11

Um, yeah G-Man, I had season tix for some of those years, and well, it was uglier than this batch of Wizards. His career record as a coach is 202-345. Love Wes the player, no need to revisit Wes the coach or Wes the GM.

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

And Divi, I said it before and will say it again...draft big, buy small. most of these "great" rookie and 2nd year pgs will be available in a year either via free agency or trade. The truth is, there are always more 1s and 2s available than quality big men.

And how about this front court in 2 years:
C - McGee
PF - Cousins
SF - Blatche
Posted by: Blurred

Yeah! Yeah! Let's take our 7 footer who actually gives us something in the post and move him to Small Forward! It's too bad there's no history of doing that on the Wizards....taking a PF and moving him to SF....oh wait, they did that with Juwan on the 'Sheed, Webber, Juwan Wizards. Trying to remember how that turned out....

And pretty sure, at least for this draft, divi has been saying draft small not big.

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Blurred has a point. Good big men do have some extra value (deserved or not) in a trade situation. And fans do tend to overrate young players based on speculation about a largely imaginary upside. The reality is that NBA teams (all of them) struggle to develop young players during the regular season. Combine these factors and it's entirely possible that Denver could lose interest in Lawson and begin shopping him over the next couple seasons.

I agree that Blatche isn't a small forward, though. He's not that quick at the 4, let alone out on the wing. I could see McGee and Cousins rotating at center, or Cousins sliding over to PF in relief of Blatche. A three man post rotation -- that's commmon.

Cousins brings something to the table that every NBA team needs, and that's a viable low post offensive game. Both Blatche and McGee require room to operate, and there isn't any inside. Cousins looks more comfortable with his back to the basket.

That alone IMO would help the guards regain their scoring touch, as the defenders were forced to fall back to help out inside.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

I think several people have noted that this draft is bereft of point guards. Once you get past Wall, you don't see anybody who's even the equal of Lawson. Players like Lucas of Mich State or Collins of Kansas are there, but neither is six foot. Some scouts talk about converting Willie Warren to PG -- good luck.

Last year you had one exceptional big man at the top of the draft and then nada. That's why Thabeet went second despite his obvious flaws, and Jordan Hill snuck into the top ten (I overrated him too). Neither one of those guys is as skilled as Cousins, who has his own warts to remove.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 5:49 AM | Report abuse

Thanks LEE for pointing out that somebody from another team is playing well and doesn't care for the WIZARDS. That's as butt-f***d as this whole organization for not drafting him.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 18, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Um, yeah G-Man, I had season tix for some of those years, and well, it was uglier than this batch of Wizards. His career record as a coach is 202-345. Love Wes the player, no need to revisit Wes the coach or Wes the GM.

Posted by: ts35

All I am saying is that he got a no-talent team to play hard every night and didn't coddle anybody. They competed on the defensive end, something that Eddie Jordan or Flip was able to do. The talent level on EJ's team was a lot better than what Unseld was working with.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

correction: something Eddie Jordan or Flip were NOT able to do.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

And pretty sure, at least for this draft, divi has been saying draft small not big.


Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse


Exactly...that's why I was contradicting him.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

And then he woke-up....please LMAO

Posted by: dsquare | March 17, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Guys want to get paid. That front court line-up, and maybe Samson is right about having a 3 man PF/C rotation, is only going to cost you about $7-9 million TOTAL for each of the next two years. So we are going to have enough money to vie for a FA Durant or FA Mayo.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Cousins is a head case and then hes gonna have money too.. Talent hes a good pick-up, mental state is another story. Think of all the trouble he can get into here in DC. I dont think hes a good fit at all. I think we should take a pass on him...

Posted by: dsquare | March 17, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Prove it. I hear all this talk, but then i read this article by jason king: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news?slug=jn-cousins031610&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
and can't figure out what all the fuss is about his being a headcase.

Because he got into it with a coach when he was 14?

if there is more PROOF about this, I'd be happy to know it before I lobby for Cousins anymore. But I can't find it other than a whole bunch of folks spreading blanket statements about him being a trouble maker or a headcase but with nothing backing up their claim.

Even if he is as hot under the collar as rasheed, wouldn't you still wwant him?

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Yeah! Yeah! Let's take our 7 footer who actually gives us something in the post and move him to Small Forward! It's too bad there's no history of doing that on the Wizards....taking a PF and moving him to SF....oh wait, they did that with Juwan on the 'Sheed, Webber, Juwan Wizards. Trying to remember how that turned out....

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

44-38 with Sheed
46-36 with Big Ben (and called by MJ the best upcoming team in the NBA)

so, they had 2 out of the best 3 seasons in the past 30 years with that arrangement. Not perfect, but the point is having a surfeit of big guys is better than not having enough. And at 46-36 record is about twice as many wins as we are going to see this year and 2.5x as many as last year.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Evan Turner is 6'7" and looks like he could play 1-3....do you think that type of player is always available through trade?

re: Cousins in particular, the "bad" is also he's said to be kinda lazy right? Doesnt really get after it? And already 280pounds?

risky?

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

'cause I see AB being locked in at PF, which means 35mins/night. So where does Cousins play? Backup roles, and then either push Mcgee or AB out of the lineup? Seems like a stretch to put plodding AB at the 3spot regularly.

Meanwhile, Turner comes in and replaces the likes of Miller, Ross, and NY. Plus he can play 2 while Gil is shopped and when/if Gil is traded....we've got a 6'7"PG who plays D

i know what you're saying about the premium on Bigs of course, and and it's generally true...but this year for this franchise?

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

re: Cousins in particular, the "bad" is also he's said to be kinda lazy right? Doesnt really get after it? And already 280pounds?

risky?

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Prove it. Who says. Where are your sources. I am not saying you are wrong, just saying no one has shown me anything other than hearsay.

Where does 280 come from? I was seeing 245-260.
At 280, I might be worried, but 245-260 for a guy who is likely to grow another inch still and get to about 6'11 isn't so bad. I thought we were all saying we need some more beef down low.

Look, its cool to disagree with me. I just think you get the guy who can have the biggest impact in the draft, not draft for position. you can buy and trade for position. You don't get many chances at true impact players. That's what i believe Cousins is.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, Turner comes in and replaces the likes of Miller, Ross, and NY. Plus he can play 2 while Gil is shopped and when/if Gil is traded....we've got a 6'7"PG who plays D

i know what you're saying about the premium on Bigs of course, and and it's generally true...but this year for this franchise?

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

That sounds like a good option also. I was talking primarily about pgs. Swing men were all the rage in the 90's. I like versatility also. I will have to look into Turner.

Just been super impressed by what I've seen of Cousins. And so far, no one has show any proof that he is lazy, a headcase or trouble.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"I just think you get the guy who can have the biggest impact in the draft, not draft for position."

So why do you think none of the boards have him as the top prospect? Let's say we win the lotto (uh-huh), would you still go for Cousins?

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

so, they had 2 out of the best 3 seasons in the past 30 years with that arrangement. Not perfect, but the point is having a surfeit of big guys is better than not having enough. And at 46-36 record is about twice as many wins as we are going to see this year and 2.5x as many as last year.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely. You draft big and you buy small. Let's go get ERIC MAYNOR for a back-up PG to replace BOYKINS.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I like that Evan Turner played 3 years, too. I think there will be a lot of good talent to choose from this year. I was speaking about big v little in general, but more specifically about drafting pgs.

But here's my case in point: Kwame Brown.

Ends up he is an awful pick, but you get to trade hime for Caron Butler, a 6-7 all-star swing man.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

If Cousins plays the post defensively too, he could be more beneficial on that end than on the offensive end. He would be perfect on both ends if that is the case.

I think Favors could help on both ends too.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

"we've got a 6'7"PG who plays D"

Who's a 6'7" point guard? I hope you don't mean Turner?

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

"So why do you think none of the boards have him as the top prospect? Let's say we win the lotto (uh-huh), would you still go for Cousins?Posted by: divi3"

Wall is the first choice.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

GLawrence...good luck w/your spiders my man!

I have them going to the 8 in one of my pools.

I'd love to get Maynor, but may be biased by my VCU fandom.

Then again...I can tell you he is better than what we hove now. From what i've read, OKC doesn't want to let him go. they like having him as insurance.


Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

It's nice to ponder whether the Wizards should draft Evan Turner over DeMarcus Cousins. The T'wolves, Nets or Warriors will probably make that decison for us. If Cousins is still around for the 4th or 5th pick, it's a no-brainer to pick him to fortify our front line.

Also, if the Wiz draft Cousins, it might make sense to assign Andray Blatche the job of keeping DeMarcus in check socially. Andray's been there, done that and he might have some "street cred" with Cousins.

Posted by: musicmanjr | March 18, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

OK...still waiting for anyone with real PROOF that all the negative talk about Cousins is real. All I've seen is one incident when he was like 14 and a bunch of hearsay.

14???? dear God, if anyone is judged by what they do when they are 14, with all the crazy hormaones running through you, then we probably all should be in jail.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It looks like we have a better chance at getting a big than a guard. That being the case, Gil will run the point and I have no problem with that. I know a lot of people here have a problem with that but...and I wouldnt mind a backcourt of Turner and Gil. Any scenario without Gil or a MAJOR free agent signing would mean we need a go-to guy in the 4th.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

14???? dear God, if anyone is judged by what they do when they are 14, with all the crazy hormaones running through you, then we probably all should be in jail.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

GO SPIDERS. And re: this post - amen. LOL!!!!

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 18, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

OK...still waiting for anyone with real PROOF that all the negative talk about Cousins is real. All I've seen is one incident when he was like 14 and a bunch of hearsay.

14???? dear God, if anyone is judged by what they do when they are 14, with all the crazy hormaones running through you, then we probably all should be in jail.

Posted by: Blurred

The problem is you live in an unforgiving society with judgemental people who'd rather focus on someone else's screw as though they have led a perfect, mistake free life.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

A society where they are exploited as 14 years old and nobody looks or calls out the exploiters. All they do is focus on the kid.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 18, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"While Cousins is without a doubt a precocious talent with the type of physical tools and scoring instincts that you rarely see at the college level, there are many question marks revolving around whether he has the intangibles needed to reach his extremely high potential. His body language and overall temperament on the floor is often very poor, looking somewhat lazy and disinterested and at times downright selfish. He’s clearly not the smartest guy you’ll find on or off the court, and he already tends to react very poorly to different situations on the floor and lose his temper in concerning fashion."

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/DeMarcus-Cousins-1318/

also says he's 270 and only going to get bigger, but these profiles are often spotty

Posted by: divi3 | March 18, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Divi. that is more than most, but still is mostly speculation and no concrete examples of him being a poor performer. I'm not saying he will be the next Shaq, but if you are old enough to remember when shaq was at LSU and thinking of leaving early, these were all the same things they said about him. fat, Lazy, bad body language, ill tempered, unstoppable.

Come to think of it, those describe Charles barkley pretty well too.

And, well, except for the fat part, that is how Kareem was described, also.

I like this part of your article, though:

"#1 in PER (actually ranking #1 in the last 8 years in that category), Points per-40 minutes pace adjusted, rebounds per-40p, field goals made and second in free throw attempts, Cousins has answered his many critics by going out and producing in unbelievable fashion."

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

last thing about Cousins - I guarantee you 30 of those 270 lbs are in his enormo shoulders.

I like the description of his "soft hands," too. Wish we'd had that for the past 9 years.

Posted by: Blurred | March 18, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

A third pick off the board and eight overall rank by draft express won't be offset by his head, at least, right out of the box. He'll go quick in the draft scheme of things, and the NBA coaches and execs will deal with his demeanor as it comes.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 18, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: nikejordans1 | March 18, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

44-38 with Sheed
46-36 with Big Ben (and called by MJ the best upcoming team in the NBA)

so, they had 2 out of the best 3 seasons in the past 30 years with that arrangement. Not perfect, but the point is having a surfeit of big guys is better than not having enough. And at 46-36 record is about twice as many wins as we are going to see this year and 2.5x as many as last year.

Posted by: Blurred

And do you think those teams were successful because of Howard at SF or because one team had two of the best PFs in the past 15 years in Sheed and Webber and the other had Webber plus a player who would evolve into one of the best defensive players of the past 15 years? They put Howard at SF out of necessity because Sheed appeared to be clearly the best talent available with the 4th pick (and because they didn't have the foresight to risk the pick on some talented high school kid named Garnett), and also because Webber was too big of a baby to play some Center.

I give Jumaji full credit for trying to make it work, but he was not a good SF. It was the season that Webber went out with a shoulder injury and Howard carried the team that garnered him the big contract.

So the question being, with all of the time teams spend trying to make their big men play like big men, why would you want to take one of the better low-post options we've had in years and try to move him to the wing when it's not necessary? I have no problem taking a big man if they figure he's the best player out there, but why does that mean Blatche has to move to SF? There's 96 minutes a night between PF and C, more than enough to get 3 players good minutes each game.

Plus are Favors or Cousins rated that much higher than Johnson or Aminu?

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

And pretty sure, at least for this draft, divi has been saying draft small not big.


Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse


Exactly...that's why I was contradicting him.

Posted by: Blurred

My goof, I misread that as "As Divi said..."

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Big men do tend to have more value, Blurred, but the counter to your argument is that teams often overvalue bigs based on that. They tend to speculate more on potential.

But I get that you think Cousins will be an impact player. If it comes down to Turner vs Cousins, I take Turner. Not for need but because he projects as an impact player and has fewer question marks. Plus, he's demonstrated leadership, toughness and ability in the clutch, all of which this team could really use.

If it comes down to Cousins vs Favors vs Aminu vs Johnson, at that point in the draft I think it's just whichever guy you like the most out of that group. I haven't seen enough of any of them to have a preference. I sort of agree though with you about the questions raised about Cousins. I don't think they can discount the questions about Cousins, but I don't think they should pass on him just because of it. Lots of players have had questions raised that proved meaningless (Stoudamire, Caron), lots of players have also had flags raised that proved prescient. So you have to look at them, but you can't always accept them at face value.

Posted by: ts35 | March 18, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Plus are Favors or Cousins rated that much higher than Johnson or Aminu?Posted by: ts35"

No. It's the positions they play.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"Plus are Favors or Cousins rated that much higher than Johnson or Aminu?Posted by: ts35"

No. It's the positions they play.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The rap on Aminu is the same one you hear about a lot of college stars: what position does he play in the pros? Aminu lacks the strength to play in size and the skills to be a big-time wing player. He gets by mostly on athleticism, but what athleticism it is.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 18, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I stopped watching them when they changed their name to the 'wizards'. Now they have a stupid name that is PC approved. Go Nuggets.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | March 19, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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