Can Ty Lawson Help Houston Win it All?

After losing Josh Smith to the L.A. Clippers last week, the Houston Rockets finally made their first, and potentially last, big move of the NBA Off-season by trading for Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets.

Per ESPN, in exchange for the troubled star, Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey sent Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a protected first round pick Denver’s way – not a lot for a player of Lawson’s calibre, though proof, if any were needed, of just how far his star’s fallen in the wake of his latest DUI charge.

Can Ty Lawson Help Houston Win it All?

Still, according to Marc Stein, the Rockets plan on enlisting the help of John Lucas to get Lawson back on the straight and narrow, something they’ve got plenty of time to do between now and the beginning of the season.

Assuming they’re successful, they may have just found the missing piece of the puzzle, last season.

Presumably Lawson’s presence will eventually force Patrick Beverley, who missed the postseason due to a wrist injury, to the bench, improving the overall offensive threat of the starting five.

As for depth, Houston suddenly has that in spades. Assuming they go with a starting group of Lawson, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard, their bench will feature the likes of Beverley, K.J McDaniels, Donatas Montiejunas, Clint Capela, Sam Dekker and Corey Brewer.

That’s a pretty solid group, one that should, injuries aside, have little to no problem making plenty of noise in the still ridiculously deep Western Conference next season. And, having reached the conference finals with a banged up roster last year, Rockets fans will no doubt have designs on a place in the Finals moving forward.

Well, the less sceptical among them might, as they’ll be there in their red and white jerseys, front row centre, overlooking the fact that Lawson has a drink problem, that Dwight Howard’s body’s breaking down and that the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and L.A. Clippers got better or stayed equally great this offseason. Oh, and let’s not forget about the Oklahoma City Thunder, who’ll be hoping for a lot more Kevin Durrant next season, or the Memphis Grizzlies, who are always grinding away on the periphery, or even the impending ascension of Anthony “the Brow” Davis.

More realistic devotees might consider the Lawson move a stepping-stone, or at least a step in the right direction, one that could provide their team with the certain something it’s been lacking since Howard and Harden showed up, or one that could even end up going the way of, say, Rajon Rondo’s time in Dallas.

Although Lawson expressed a distinct interest in moving to Sacramento, the latter scenario seems less likely in Houston, a place that provides the kind of stable environment a troubled player needs, not to mention the welcome distraction of playoff basketball to come.

Still, Lawson’s a volatile character who’s just seen the bottom fall out of the franchise that drafted him and right now he probably needs a little love, especially if he’s to recapture the kind of form that resulted in the, per basketball-reference, 17.6 PPG, 8.8 APG and 1.6 SPG stat line he produced the year before last.

In truth, Houston probably doesn’t need him to score as much as Denver did. What the Rockets need is someone who can handle the ball, get into the teeth of the defence and find their shooters on the perimeter. Luckily for them this is Lawson’s bread and butter and when you consider that he’s shot .369 from three on his career he should function pretty well as a secondary option too, something he might have to get used to given the amount of time the ball’s likely to spend in Harden’s hands. Spacing might be an issue, but if, say, Terrence Jones were to spend the summer shooting threes he’d not only open up the lanes for Harden and Lawson but he’d also give Dwight Howard a bit more space to do whatever it is he intends to do offensively next year. That said, there’s always Montiejunas, who isn’t necessarily a better three point shooter but he’s certainly a more willing one.

The other option, of course, is to persist with the Harden, Beverley backcourt combo and allow Lawson to come off the bench.

This might not be the worst idea in the world either, as neither Harden nor Lawson is much of a defender, while Beverley’s 3-and-D ID makes Houston a much tougher match up on the perimeter. Plus, the idea of Lawson filling in when Harden’s off the court, not to mention running and gunning alongside him at crunch time, makes for an intriguing prospect, especially as Lawson is a more than capable closer who makes Houston a whole lot less predictable in the dying seconds.

However he’s utilised, Lawson’s ability to score and create for others should ensure he’s a hit in Houston next season. As long as he’s able to kick the habit and buy in to whatever Daryl Morey and head coach Kevin McHale cook up for him, the diminutive point guard has been given the sort of shot at redemption he probably doesn’t deserve.

As for the Rockets, this is a gamble that has, to date, cost them very little. How much it ultimately costs them depends on Ty Lawson and, more specifically, his attitude and acumen. As far as ability’s concerned he has what it takes to be a great fit on this team and should ensure Houston’s in the mix once again next spring. If they’re able to keep everyone healthy, avoid disrupting James Harden’s MVP-worthy play and maybe even pinch home court for the playoffs they’ve got a chance, assuming, as mentioned, they’re able to overcome the championship-calibre Warriors and Spurs, not to mention the Clippers, Thunder, Grizzlies etc. etc.

Should be a cinch, right?