#NuggetsRank No. 1: Ty Lawson


Every year around this time ESPN introduces its annual #NBArank series codifying all 500 players in the NBA from least to most valuable. Last year Roundball Mining Company decided to get in on the action and began ranking each of the players on the Denver Nuggets’ final 15-man roster in the same fashion. We’ve polled all seven of our writers, asking them to arrange each player on the Nuggets roster from one to 15 (one being the best, 15 the least valuable), then we added everyone’s scores together to come up with a single, definitive list of the 15 “most valuable” Denver Nuggets. Taking the top spot in this year’s #NuggetsRank is Ty Lawson, who moves up one position from No. 2 in 2012.

Ty Lawson is the best player on the Denver Nuggets roster. All but one of our writers had him first overall on their #NuggetsRank ballots. Had the Nuggets not traded for Andre Iguodala last season, Lawson would have made consecutive appearances as the No. 1 player on this list. But what is it that separates Lawson so much from Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler for the near consensus best player on the team? As I mentioned in my recent season preview, it’s all about potential.

Since coming into the league in 2009, Ty Lawson has improved every season. Though this shooting percentages have dipped, that’s to be expected given his increase in playing time and overall responsibility as the starting point guard and leader of the Denver Nuggets. What matters most with Lawson are essentially two categories: points and assists. Those have increased every year he’s been in the league — as have his steals — and are the two main strengths Lawson possesses as a professional basketball player. Other players will rebound, hit threes and block shots. Ty Lawson must score and distribute.

And he has. In addition to his impressive regular season performances, Ty Lawson has morphed into a totally different machine come playoff time. Despite the Nuggets’ repeatedly underwhelming playoff performances spearheaded by former head coach George Karl, Lawson always brought his A Game and then some. In 2011 Lawson increased his averages from 12 points and five assists in the regular season to 16 and four in the postseason. In 2012 he jumped from 16 and seven to 19 and six. And last year he bumped his numbers from 17 and seven in the regular season up to an All-Star caliber 21 and eight against the Golden State Warriors in the first (and the Nuggets’ only) round of the playoffs.

In recent years Nuggets fans (including yours truly) have openly questioned how far Denver can really go in the Western Conference without a star. We’ve nearly crashed the ESPN Trade Machine trying to concoct deals that would bring disgruntled superstars to Denver and have scoured for myriad ways the Nuggets could trade up in the draft for the next precocious prodigy. But with the way Ty Lawson has been playing, and the way he’s consistently improved each year, it’s not entirely inane to suggest that the star Denver has been looking for since Carmelo Anthony left town has been right under our noses all along, wearing powder blue and gold.


15. Anthony Randolph

14. Quincy Miller

13. Timofey Mozgov

12. Jordan Hamilton

11. Randy Foye

10. Darrell Arthur

9. J.J. Hickson

8. Andre Miller

7. Evan Fournier

6. Nate Robinson

5. JaVale McGee

4. Kenneth Faried

3. Wilson Chandler

2. Danilo Gallinari

1. Ty Lawson

This concludes our #NuggetsRank for 2013. Though our system for ranking isn’t perfect, we figure it’s a pretty good indicator of where everyone falls in relation to their teammates. Next week we’ll be doing a 5-on-5 to assess how well we think we did with this year’s rankings, but in the meantime, tell us what you think about #NuggetsRank. Are we somewhere in the ballpark in terms of where players should be positioned? If not, which guys should be higher and which should be lower? And what’s your personal #NuggetsRank order, if you haven’t told us already?

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

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  • Evan Woodruff

    He is an Allstar this year

  • mmj5280

    All star ahead of cp3 & Steph Curry??

  • CD Pascual

    Come on Ty! No more excuses! no more slow starts! Get it on!

  • heykyleinsf

    most under-rated player in the NBA and the quickest crossover as well.

  • heykyleinsf

    The way Randolph is playing (good) and the way Hamilton is playing (horrible)… means that this list is far from accurate. But Ty is #1 for sure. And Mozzy is #15 for sure.

  • Josh Chin

    Personally, I think Karl was really a huge part of Lawson’s development. If any of you guys watched The Association, there was an emphasis on Karl really trying to get Ty to be the floor general and leader on the court by leading by example. Karl was really pushing for him to be assertive. I’m not saying Shaw won’t be able to tap into Ty’s potential, but Karl was really great for Ty.

    On a side note, Ty struggled against CP3. I know CP3’s the best pg but its always a good comparison to see how far/close Ty is from becoming elite. Ty is a great player in the league but among PG’s in this era, he is probably a slightly above average starter. I’m trying to be as objective as I can

    • Josh Chin

      If he were this great at the SF or SG position then he might be a much better player and even make the all-star but his position is loaded as we all know

  • googergieger

    Still think Gallo’s two way play makes him the best overall player on the team. Then again apparently he isn’t a great defender because. Which I believe was your other writer’s argument on the matter.