Ever since Ty Lawson has assumed the titular role of the Denver Nuggets’ best player, we’ve heard a phrase often associated with his name: The Nuggets go as Ty goes. Though this adage may have been true at one point in time (and still is to a degree), the numbers certainly paint a different picture this year. As I’ve stated multiple times on Twitter and in Rapid Reactions, the player who’s personal success seems to translate most frequently into wins is actually Randy Foye. And though it may be difficult to acknowledge for some, it’s time we all accept the fact that the Nuggets really go as Foye goes — at least for now.
(Note: The following analysis has been accumulated up to the Golden State Warriors game only. These numbers do not include the Cleveland Cavaliers game or any game thereafter.)
(Note No. 2: Before I get completely chastised by those in the Nuggets community for the premise I’m about to put forth, I think it’s important to note how fickle statistics can be. Just because these numbers reflect the manner in which the Nuggets are operating now, it doesn’t mean they are a signpost for the future.)
The Nuggets are 6-2 in the month of January with signature wins over Golden State and Oklahoma City. During this period Randy Foye has been playing his best basketball since donning a Denver Nuggets uniform, averaging 17 points (on 53 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent shooting from downtown), four rebounds and three assists per game. Other players have had impressive games this month, and Ty Lawson is also averaging some gaudy numbers since the turn of the new year, but it’s Foye who’s been the real spearhead of the Nuggets’ success.
By the Numbers: Foye vs. Lawson
- The Denver Nuggets have played 38 games this year. Ty Lawson has had 16 games where he’s scored 20 or more points. The Nuggets are 6-10 in those games. Conversely, Lawson has had 14 games of 10 or more assists. In those games the Nuggets are 8-6.
- Randy Foye has scored 10 points or more 24 times this season. In those games the Nuggets are 13-11. Foye has also scored 12 or more points on 16 different occasions this season. The Nuggets are 11-5 in those games. Finally, Foye has managed to drop 15 or more points seven times this season. Not surprisingly, the Nuggets are 6-1 in those games.
Suggesting Foye is better than Ty Lawson is obviously ludicrous. That is not what the above data suggests. What we can surmise, however, is that the Nuggets are a better basketball team when Ty Lawson is distributing and when players like Foye are the recipients of his dimes. When Lawson has reliable shooters on the edge his penetration skills and speed become that much more dangerous, which is exactly what we’ve seen occur this month. Lawson is currently third in the NBA in assists per game and is averaging almost 12 per game this month, many of which have been punctuated by long-distance shots made by Foye, who’s also averaging three 3-pointers per game in January. Which leads us to…
By the Numbers: Foye from downtown
- The Nuggets are averaging eight 3-pointers per game this year. Foye is averaging just under two 3-pointers per game, meaning he essentially accounts for 25 percent of all 3-pointers made by the Nuggets this year.
- Foye is currently tied for 22nd in the NBA in made threes this season. That sandwiches him between highly regarded 3-point specialists like former Nugget Arron Afflalo and Spurs sharpshooter Marco Belinelli.
- Foye is currently on pace to shoot his best percentage from the field since 2009-10.
In conclusion, Foye may not have been everyone’s No. 1 free agent choice as a long-distance specialist this past summer, but Nuggets fans should be grateful he signed in Denver as his arsenal is something the Nuggets have desperately needed since the departure of Arron Afflalo. Foye isn’t the most glamorous athlete and he certainly has his fair share of weaknesses, but given the role he’s been asked to play Foye has proven to be more than reliable. He’s currently the Nuggets fourth leading scorer and is owed only $6 million for the remainder of his contract over the next two years. But more than anything, Foye’s recent revelatory scoring onslaught should instill hope and optimism in fans moving forward, as pairing Foye with Danilo Gallinari on the outside could finally catapult the Nuggets to becoming one of the league’s best 3-point shooting teams in the not-so-distant future.
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