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Ty Lawson voted second best newcomer by ESPN amidst reportedly successful rehab stint

Kalen Deremo Avatar
August 30, 2015

 

Ty Lawson has (or perhaps, had) lots of troubles off the court. Recently those troubles reached a fever pitch when he was court-ordered to attend rehab. Now, after a month of treatment, Lawson is reportedly improving at a very satisfactory rate according to TMZ.com:

Some more good news for embattled NBA star Ty Lawson … who just got some dap from the judge presiding over his DUI case in Colorado.

Long story short … the Houston Rockets star entered rehab last month following a DUI arrest in Los Angeles …. which came 6 months after a DUI arrest in Denver.

There was a hearing in his Colorado case today — and in the judge’s notes, he wrote that Lawson has been making “excellent progress” in the case.

In related news, according to the ESPN Forecast panel (which I’m an active member), outside of LaMarcus Aldridge no player who transferred teams this summer is more valuable to his new squad than Lawson:

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 7.42.56 AMWhile I can’t vouch for the three people who voted Lawson more vital than Aldridge, I wholeheartedly agree with his overall ranking in this series (for the record, I voted him third behind Greg Monroe). Due to his drug and alcohol problems there’s a tendency to view Lawson in a tainted light. And while it’s true that whatever team pays his salary also gambles on a different kind of toll thanks to his off-court history, it’s also important to distinguish Lawson’s ability from his problems when analyzing his talent.

Last year, for example, in ESPN’s annual #NBARank codifying all 500 players employed by the league, Lawson came in at No. 45. He was surrounded by players like Kobe Bryant, Klay Thompson, Brook Lopez and Chandler Parsons. Now, after nearly 365 days of turmoil, there’s a chance Lawson could drop in this ranking despite being a better overall basketball player than he was in 2014. In truth, there are probably no more than 30-35 players in the NBA better than Lawson.

I only write this to try and explain the difficulty in appraising individual players at any given moment in time throughout their careers. How do we place value on athletes? How much weight do off-court actions carry? Do we desire production at its purest or do intangible traits and characteristics like leadership, effort and attentiveness take authority over all else? Adding even more difficulty to this process is the perpetual notion of time, of which value is intrinsically linked.

If Lawson is indeed improving at a vast rate, if he’s the Houston Rockets’ starting point guard on opening night and if his problems become memories rather than current events (which, looks somewhat likely at this point), then this summer’s trade debacle becomes all the more damaging for the Nuggets. If Lawson undergoes a Terminatoresque transformation and comes back an even better player than before (again, highly likely considering his age), then the Nuggets’ inability to fully consider the process of time in their valuation of Lawson this summer becomes all the more clumsy. Because if Lawson is already making “excellent progress” after only one month, it’s not entirely unreasonable to assume he might reach a newly discovered profound state of consciousness in the coming months prior to the season kicking off in late October, at which time his value will turn 180 degrees from where it was when the Nuggets shipped him to southeast Texas midsummer.

Though it may appear so, I promise I’m not trying to beat a dead horse. The Nuggets have a bright future (as I’ve repeatedly stated even post-Lawson) and there’s no reason to dwell on something as immutable as the past. But I do think this should serve as a valuable lesson in the art of time management and how it specifically relates to player-value for the Nuggets moving forward. If in a month since his nadir Lawson is already on the high road to full recovery, or even reinvention, then it should be only a bit more time before his value is again viewed with great esteem around the NBA — a very small time in the scope of an NBA career, but a massive swing in the pendulum of value… both occurring, on a macro-scale, altogether, at roughly the same time.

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