Coming off another first round exit from the NBA playoffs, and one which resulted in an overhaul of sorts, Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets enter the season with a simple goal in mind: make the second round of the playoffs.
This is not to say that the Nuggets do not also aspire to loftier accomplishments. Take it as a different take on the “one game at a time” cliche. Take it as an acknowledgement that the Nuggets can’t think about winning their conference or an NBA title without getting the heck out of the first round.
Lawson addressed that issue at Nuggets media day this week (quotes courtesy of the Denver Post):
“I’m ready to show everybody who I really am and get back on track…I want to experience that second-round life…
“…And second of all, expand my game and trying to make the all-star team. Even though point guard is a deep, deep position this year.”
Had the Nuggets survived against the Golden State Warriors, it would have been because of Lawson’s all-star level play. In the series he averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 assists per game. With teammate Danilo Gallinari out until at least November, the Nuggets need Lawson to show that form and that ability to shoulder the scoring load from day one.
For all of the changes with this team, Lawson’s role as the most important member of the Nuggets remains the same. If he does want to experience that “second round life,” it will largely be up to him to get the team there. It sounds like he knows as much.