It was midway through August, the point guard dilemma was in full swing, and the Sacramento Kings window for opportunity was closing rapidly. The NBA had yet to enforce its sanctions on Darren Collison and with no timetable available, it had the franchise at a stand still.
Knowing that acquiring a point guard was a necessity due to the Collison issue combined with the ever ending recycling of past Kings point guards (Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans), Sacramento had to make a move fast.
The wait forced the Kings to feed from a pool of what were considered tier two or tier three point guards which consisted of past 2x NBA champion in Norris Cole, Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich and Ty Lawson.
Knowing that Collison would be out for an extended period of time, Sacramento went with the player who once produced at a high level as a starter in Lawson.
Signing Lawson raised some red flags around the Kings community and provoked the “here we go again mentality.” From the outside looking in, one would ask the question, why would Sacramento sign a point guard with a legal history after the franchise’s starting point guard is in an ongoing investigation?
The need for Lawson’s immediate production surpassed the ideology of his past actions because of the timeliness of the signing correlating directly to the case involving Collison.
On Aug. 31, 2016, the Kings signed Lawson to a one-year $1,315,448 contract, one month before players reported to training camp.
Leading into the season, Lawson knew he would have to reinvent his career in Sacramento to prove to himself and the rest of the NBA that his two DUI’s would not overshadow the success he has had.
If Lawson wanted an opportunity in signing more than a one-year deal in the NBA after this season, the Kings gave him the platform.
The preseason was a questioning one of sorts surrounding Lawson after missing a team flight to Kentucky following the Lakers preseason game in Las Vegas. General Manager Vlade Divac and head coach Dave Joerger quickly assured the public that this was a personal matter and it would be handled accordingly.
“We handle it inside [the] house,” Divac told local reporters in reference to meeting with Lawson. “He got the message, and we move forward.”
Then coach Joerger added more insight:
“Ty had a personal issue, and that stuff is non-basketball-related,” Joerger told reporters. “It’s in my hands. The decisions that were made of the plane and all this stuff, that’s on me. It’s a personal issue. It’s, I think, been very inaccurately reported.”
No fines or suspensions were handed out to Lawson following the incident as the Kings wanted to move forward in replacing Collison for his eight game suspension.
Lawson had an underachieving start to the season, as he was able to shoot 38 percent for the month of October and 40 percent through November. Despite his poor shooting percentages off the jump, Lawson was still averaging two more points than he did during the 2015-2016 season with the Rockets and Pacers. The numbers showed promise and it was just up to Lawson to make the best out of his opportunity.
In late November, Lawson was able to string together four plus ten-point performances and gave Kings fans something to be excited about. Over that six game span, Lawson was playing with more energy and assertiveness on the defensive end, which ultimately increased his offensive performance significantly.
Following a great end to November, Lawson seemed to have lost the momentum in the early weeks of December. Lawson remained consistent with his scoring, but his shooting percentages shot back down into the mid level 30’s. It felt that Lawson’s play to end November was a tease that led straight into another slump.
Looks are deceiving and Lawson proved us wrong. Right after his low percentage start to December, Lawson strung together five straight plus ten performances around the Holidays.
Shooting well over 50 percent on the streak, Lawson regained his momentum and it has shown on the court. Lawson finished December averaging 8.5 points, while shooting 41 percent.
The momentum did not end there for Lawson as he began the new year guns blazing and has put together his most consistent month as a member of the Kings. Despite the Kings’ (3-8) record for January, Lawson has averaged 12.9 points for the month on 48 percent shooting.
By the looks of it, Divac’s presumed predictions that Lawson could still produce after his roller coaster season a year ago were correct.
Whether or not his tremendous play follows him throughout the season, it’s safe to say that Lawson has solidified himself as an NBA player once again. He has shown that he can make a difference as a starter or in a reserve role, and the Kings will continue to need his consistency if they have any aspirations in breaking their playoff drought.