Getting to Know . . . North Carolina’s Ty Lawson
Editors note: This story originally ran on June 12, 2008, after then-North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson worked out for the Nuggets. Lawson was an early entry candidate who later withdrew his name from the NBA Draft. He went on to help the Tar Heels win the 2009 NCAA title and was acquired by the Nuggets on draft night 2009.
The Denver Nuggets currently own the 20th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft on June 26th. In preparation for the draft, the Nuggets have invited some of the top draft-eligible players in the world to come workout for the team to get a better idea of who to secure with the 20th selection.
On Tuesday, June 10, the Nuggets auditioned six draft prospects at the Pepsi Center practice facility: Stanley Burrell of Xavier, C.J. Giles of Oregon State, Nathan Jawai of Australia, Ty Lawson of North Carolina, Walter Sharpe of UAB and Mark Tyndale of Temple.
Lawson, a 5-11 speedy point guard, helped the Tar Heels advance to the 2008 Final Four and currently ranks fifth all-time at UNC in assists per game (5.4) and is 16th in total assists (378).
Nuggets.com’s Tim Gelt had a chance to catch up with Lawson after his workout.
How did your workout go today?
I think it went well. I shot the ball okay. I didn’t get too much lift because of my ankle, but other than that I thought it went real well.
What was the best part of your workout today?
Probably the one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three drills. I thought I did real well.
What do you look to prove to each organization that you workout for, and how do you prepare yourself?
Just go out there and show what I’ve been doing. Just show that I can shoot the ball because I really didn’t shoot that much at Carolina. I think I averaged seven or nine shots a game. Just show that I can score a little bit more.
What is your game’s biggest strength?
I would say getting to the basket, finishing in the lane, finding people for open jump shots and on the ball defense.
What is your biggest weakness?
Probably help defense a little bit because I just really lock up on my man, and probably real deep shooting.
As a player who is known for speed, how would it be to play in the Nuggets up-tempo system?
I think I’d fit in real well. I watched them a lot on TV, they were my favorite team with Carmelo (Anthony), (Allen) Iverson and all of them. I watched them a lot. I'd get the ball up the court as quick as I can and find Melo and AI for jumpshots.
It would be unbelievable because I’ve been watching him since he got in the league and when he was with Georgetown. It would be great to play with him and learn a lot of things from him.
Looking back, what was your best game in college?
Probably NC State my freshman year. I was really nervous coming in and I thought I played real well. I think I had 24 points. And probably Miami this year, where I think I had 23 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and five steals.
What are you most looking forward to about being in the NBA?
Just playing with the great players like Kobe, KG, Carmelo, LeBron. Just playing with all these players. It’s my childhood dream.
What is your biggest fear about it?
Sometimes my fear would be failing because there are a lot of great players in the NBA and things like not playing up to my potential and things like that -- just coming out here and not playing well at all.
Do you have a favorite player or role model that you looked up to the most growing up?
My favorite player now is probably LeBron James and lately Steve Nash and Chris Paul because they’re so good at the point guard position.
When did you start playing basketball?
I think when I was about eight years old.
What do you think your biggest challenge is going to be at the next level?
Nothing too much would be a challenge, but probably guarding bigger guys.
What was your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is math.
What will be the first thing that you buy if you get drafted into the NBA?
The first thing I’d buy is my mom a house or a car, whatever she wants because she deserves it.
Who is the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influence is probably my dad because he was the one that put the basketball in my hands.
Who is your favorite musical artist?
Probably Lil Wayne, he’s my favorite one right now.
What is your favorite movie?
“Love Don’t Cost a Thing” because of Christina Milian.
Did you follow the Nuggets at all this past season?
Yeah I did. I followed them a lot. I watched them through the playoffs.
How do you think you’d fit in with this team and what do you feel you could add to the roster?
Probably more on the ball defense, not let people get to the lane. Probably more assists because everyone on the team is a great shooter, J.R. Smith and the wings. I could get a lot of assists and easy buckets.
Being a North Carolina guy like George Karl, do you think you have an advantage over other players in this draft looking to be selected by the Nuggets?
A little bit because George Karl played point guard for Dean Smith. It would be an honor for him to coach me because of the Carolina ties. I mean even the team’s color is Carolina blue, so it wouldn’t be bad playing here.