Leading the Way

Ty Lawson comfortable with Nuggets' high expectations
by Aaron Lopez

After enjoying the best statistical season of his career, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson has no problem with his coach and general manager raising the bar even higher.

“I can take it,” Lawson said after a visit to Pepsi Center on Thursday. “They just want to get the best out of me.”

Denver coach Brian Shaw and general manger/executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly admit they are tougher on Lawson than anyone else on the team, and they have been straightforward with him when discussing their lofty expectations.

As the team’s scoring and assist leader, Lawson has emerged as the face of the franchise over the past three seasons. He averaged 17.6 points and 8.8 assists in 62 games while playing for the first time under Shaw in 2013-14.

“Ty had a career year by the numbers, but that didn’t translate into our team having the kind of success that you want to have,” Shaw said. “I still look at where he can get better and how he can help our team. I’m constantly challenging him.”

In his exit interview with Lawson, Shaw told the 26-year-old point guard that he doesn’t have to be a vocal leader, but he must lead by example every day in practice.

Don’t lose a five-on-five scrimmage. Be the first one across the line in every end-of-practice sprint.

“If I’m trying to win everything and going hard all the time, nobody has an excuse not to go hard,” Lawson said. “If one of the top players on the team doing everything and busting his tail, you have to do the same thing.”

Lawson said he felt he took on a bigger leadership role on the court and in the locker room last season. He also developed a healthy working relationship with Shaw as the season progressed.

“I’m 100 percent comfortable (with Shaw),” Lawson said. “He knows what he wants to get out of us and he knows what he wants to do as a basketball coach. He wants to win and he knows how to get there.”

After missing the final six games of the season with a sprained ankle, Lawson said he is looking forward to reporting to training camp fully healthy. In the meantime, he is watching nearly every NBA playoff game while awaiting his next chance to lead Denver back to the postseason.

“I think the season was a positive, at the end of the day,” he said. “We all had to deal with injuries. We played hard and played well and got better. I think it’s going to pay dividends next year.”