How Important is Ty Lawson?

Last spring I maintained that Lawson’s decision to spurn the NBA was at least as important as Tyler Hansbrough’s because of the different skills Lawson brings to the offense. As the point guard Lawson is vested with pushing the offense and distributing the basketball while minimizing turnovers. So far this season Lawson has been effective except for the turnover category which has been a tad high. Sunday night versus Clemson I thought Lawson was pressing a bit but had a solid game with 16 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds but had five turnovers. However the game winner by Ellington exhibited Lawson’s importance to this team that goes well beyond the assist he was credited with by passing the ball to the Tar Heel two guard. This still shot of the YouTube video illustrates how dangerous Clemson thought Lawson was to penetrate to the hoop, so much so, two defenders reacted to him getting past James Mays at the top of the key.


The three Clemson players are circled in orange and Ellington is circled in blue. Mays was beaten off the dribble and Raymond Sykes reacts to cover Lawson. The third Clemson player highlighted is Cliff Hammonds who was assigned to guard Ellington but when Lawson starts his drive he reacts to Lawson instead of staying with his man who floats out to the wing wide open. Lawson makes a great pass over to Ellington after the defense collapses which is contested by Potter. Ellington catches it and makes a clutch shot to win the game.

While Ellington was having a huge night, that shot was completely facilitated by the fear on the part of the Clemson players that Lawson would drive the lane and get to the hoop for a layup to win the game. There are very few point guards in the country that put this kind of pressure on an opposing defense.


8 Responses to How Important is Ty Lawson?

  1. Josh Bowling says:

    Yes, if that had been any other guard, single coverage would have been sufficient here, meaning no open Ellington to pass to, thus having to drive the ball himself and hoping for some miracle lay-up or foul. Great recognition THF!

  2. william says:

    Althought, it honestly wasn’t a perfect pass, it still got there.

    What I wonder is what if the Clemson guy had maintained his position on Wayne instead of going for the steal. Do you think that Wayne would have driven to the basket in search of two or a foul or would he have tried to shoot over those two guys?

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Ellington has to take that shot where he is, there is not enough time to do anything else. Potter was not guarding Ellington, he was holding down Thompson I think it is, he just goes for the steal. If he stays were he is he could have run out on Ellington but nothing else.

  4. Josh Bowling says:

    William, knowing Ellington’s tendencies would lead me to believe that we would have shot that ball re”guard”less -no pun intended- of who might not or might have been around him on defense.

  5. william says:

    Good one, Josh, although I thought his shot selection was pretty good the other nigh.

    You might be right, THF. I’ll have to check my Tivo, but I was thinking that the shot must have taken 3 seconds to go through. Doesn’t that mean he could have driven for 2.5 seconds and still have a second to shoot?

  6. william says:

    Was that our first buzzer beater win since McCants hit that shot against UConn back in 2003? It sure felt a lot better than the end of the Duke game in Durham in 2005.

    The way we came back was somewhat reminiscent of the 2005 Duke game in Chapel Hill–remember that one?–the one where none of us could breathe with three minutes left? That comeback was slightly better I think than Sunday night, but didn’t involve us hitting a shot in the last five seconds.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:


    There was only 0.4 left when it went through, that is not much time to do anything else.

  8. william says:

    Yes, but he shot it with at least a couple of seconds left, right? How long does it take a three point shot to land? As long as it leaves his hand before 0.0, it still would count.

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