NBA Saturday: Can Lawson Be an All-Star?
Ty Lawson, All-Star?
With fantasy basketball season rapidly approaching, stat-heads have to start looking at players from a strictly objective, numerical standpoint, and from a strictly objective, numerical standpoint, Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson looks primed to be one of the top five players at his position this upcoming season.
But there are a lot of big names at this position, so hearing that Lawson could be among them this year can come as something of a shock for some of basketball’s more casual fans. It’s considerably less surprising, however, when you realize what a fantastic line this young man put up in last yea’s crazy lockout-shortened season:
16 points (on 48.8 percent shooting), 6.6 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.
Not bad, right? After the All-Star break last season, he shot a scorching 50.1 percent from the field, including 40.7 percent from three-point territory, which is a huge part of what makes him such a desirable fantasy asset.
But does a young point guard on the rise playing in a contract year for a team that looks like they could be very good find his way to the All-Star team? In the Western Conference, that could prove very difficult to do.
Assuming both guys are healthy, go ahead and pencil in either Steve Nash or Chris Paul as the starter in this game by popular vote, and whoever the fans don’t send to the event will probably find his way there via the coaches’ vote. Then consider the fact that Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker own a level of stardom that Lawson simply hasn’t achieved yet, despite his stellar playoff performances last season, and it’s starting to look like a very crowded picture crammed full of top-tier Western Conference point guards.
In future years, he’ll also have Ricky Rubio and Damian Lillard to compete with, and if Goran Dragic plays anything like he did last season he’ll make things interesting, too. The bottom line is that despite the fact that Lawson looks primed for a next-level leap in 2012-2013, making the All-Star team just doesn’t seem feasible right now.
That won’t change a lot of really lucky fantasy owners from making him their PG1, though. That much he does deserve, and if he continues to improve the way he has been, Denver’s speedy little 5’11 point guard could very well be an All-Star someday. Barring injuries to other guys, though, this probably won’t be the year.
Marquis Teague Coming Along in Chicago
When former Kentucky Wildcat Marquis Teague fell to the Chicago Bulls with the 29th pick in this past summer’s draft, Bulls general manager Gar Forman and team president John Paxson couldn’t believe it. Kids that talented rarely fall that deep into the draft, and even though the 19-year-old Teague was raw and would need some serious development before contributing to the organization in a major way, it did seem like a bit of good karma to have a young, talented point guard fall to a team whose superstar point guard – Derrick Rose – seems primed to miss most of the season rehabbing his ACL.
“You get an opportunity, and it’s just about what you do with your opportunity,” Teague told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m going to come out and compete every day, do whatever Coach (Tom) Thibodeau asks me to do, and hopefully I get the minutes. I just got to go out and show that I can play.”
That will be tough considering his relative lack of experience, which really showed this past summer at the Las Vegas Summer League. Teague swears he’s come a long way since then, though, and has come to realize how much more challenging the NBA really is.
“You’ve got to have a different type of work ethic in the NBA,” Teague said. “You’ve got to come prepared every day. It’s a job now, so you’ve got to take it serious. Everyday people are coming after your job, so you have to be prepared.”
On this year’s Bulls squad, Rose isn’t likely to be among those stealing away minutes—at least not until much later in the season—but new acquisitions Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson most certainly will. And when Rose does get back, Teague doesn’t seem particularly likely to see a lot of the floor. Still, Teague knows he’s got a lot to learn from those players, D-Rose in particular.
“He works extremely hard,” Teague said of Rose. “He’s in here every day with his rehab, still trying to get shots up. I see him in here every day just as much as everybody, if not more. He goes hard.”
Of course, playing for a major college program like UK and a coach like John Calipari has helped Teague adjust to the magnifying glass he’ll have on him as a member of the Bulls.
“I’m used to having a lot of attention on my team, so coming here is kind of the same, playing with some great players,” Teague said. “I’m kind of ahead of the game a little bit from that standpoint.”
And Teague loves talking about his time at Kentucky, especially since five of his teammates from last year are also on NBA rosters this season.
“We’re all going to come and compete, any chance we get out on the floor we’re going to make the most out of it, and I know that,” Teague said. “We’re going to defend, and we’re just going to try and help our teams win.”
That’s all the Bulls expect out of Teague: help the team win however he can. The minutes simply might not be there for that to happen, however. Somewhere down the road, Teague should be very good and the Bulls are willing to be patient with him. They knew they’d have to be when they drafted him.
Royce White’s Innovative Travel Plan
In the days and weeks leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft, teams knew that former Iowa State forward Royce White was probably the most physically prepared prospect in the class as well as one of the most talented, which made him an interesting young player.
The problem with White, however, was the severe anxiety he’d experience from time to time, specifically when forced to travel on an airplane. It was something that could prove to be a bit of a roadblock for a team considering taking him in the lottery, where he probably belonged.
By the time the draft was over, the Houston Rockets had selected White with a top-20 pick despite his issues with travel, and it seems that now, even though he still hasn’t shown up to Rockets training camp, he’s close to coming to some sort agreement with his new employer about how travel is going to go during his rookie season.
White will reportedly be taking a bus to some of Houston’s away games rather than traveling with the team on chartered flights.
“Here’s how it goes,” White said on his Twitter account earlier in the week, “I’m scared (going) to the airport, I’m scared going up, I’m uncomfortable in the air and I feel like a million bucks when we hit the runway.
“I will not travel every game via bus,” he added. “It was decided that the less flying the less stress.”
White also admitted that, “Anxiety is keeping me from camp,” and that these negotiations with the team were designed to give him enough peace of mind to get his NBA career underway.
We all wondered back in the spring how this fear of flying would affect White, and apparently the answer is that it’s affecting him quite a bit, before he’s even stepped foot at training camp for his very first season in the league. Professional athletes travel a lot, and while bus trips to some of the Texas away games (and perhaps Phoenix or Oklahoma City or New Orleans) may help, that still leaves a ton of road contests in which White’s going to have to face his anxiety and do what he seemingly hates more than anything else.
White generated interest from the University of Kentucky earlier in his collegiate career but turned down the opportunity so he could play for a lower-profile team with a less intensive travel schedule. The NBA doesn’t really have that kind of option for him, so it will be interesting to see what kind of career this young man ends up having, and if the Rockets will regret selecting a player with such a unique fear (at least among pro athletes).
In any event, the bus trips should help a little. White just needs to figure out something that will help a lot, or his NBA career might be over before it even starts.