In a game that is now full of statistics, picking any out to rule success or not success can be difficult and argued for or against. Ty Lawson is averaging career bests in points (17.8 per game) and assists (8.8 per game), but at the same time he's shooting a career low from the field at 43.2%. Lawson is taking the same amount of shots per game this season, at 13.3, as he did last season (also 13.3 shots per game), but making slightly less of them (6.1 last year compared to 5.7 per game this year).
What do we make of this? Where is the point per game increase coming from?
A little of the scoring increase is coming from beyond the arc right? Well, Lawson is taking slightly more threes this season at 3.4 shots per game compared to last season's total of 3.2 per game, but he's making the same amount: 1.2 makes per game.
Maybe Ty is just playing more this season and that's the number increase ... nope. Lawson appeared in 73 games last season and if he plays in the final nine games this season, he'll tally 68 games played. His minutes are slightly up from 34.4 per game to 35.9 per game this season. Both George Karl and Brian Shaw kept/keep Ty on the floor most of the time.
What about the free throw line?
We may have found our answer. Lawson is shooting 80% from the foul line this season versus 75.6% last season. He has seen an increase in attempts from 4.3 to 6.4 per game and in makes from 3.2 to 5.2 this season. That's an extra two points per game.
Could we extrapolate from this that Lawson needs to draw fouls in order for the Nuggets to play well? Not really. Consider that when Lawson goes to the foul line 6+ times per game that the team is just 16-19. That's kind of a funny stat. Let's find some more funny stats.
Maybe when Lawson erupts offensively, the Nuggets tend to win games? Nope. When Lawson scores 25+ points per game, the team is just 3-6 on the season. The team tends to waste Lawson's big scoring nights. But when Lawson isn't scoring the ball well, the team doesn't play well either. Lawson has scored 15 points or less 19 times this season and the team is just 7-12 in those contests.
Well, perhaps the team plays really well when Lawson is unselfish, right? Consider that when Lawson goes for 8+ assists per game the team is 12-12. He has two games this season where he collected 17 assists and the team lost one of those games 122-111 to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 16th and they won the other against the Lakers 134-126 on March 7th.
So, is there a sweet spot? Well, let's take his season averages and try to find out. When Lawson goes for 17+ points, 8+ assists, and 6+ free throw attempts in a game the team is 8-8 in those 16 contests.
Lawson has played in roughly 80% of the team's 73 games this season (59 games played) and in 16 of those games, or 27% of the time, he hits his season average marks across the board in points, assists, and free throw attempts. The team is 28-31 with Lawson in the lineup and, again, 8-8 when he meets the three marks illustrated.
For me, this just shows once again that basketball is the ultimate team sport. You cannot depend on one guy to win games, but when one player has an all-around good game, that's more important than one big night in one department.
Just some interesting numbers to chew on as the season winds down.