Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Whether it was a two, three or free throw, Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson's shot was an absolute mess in the first two months of the season.
Through his first 32 games, Lawson threatened to join the under .400/.300/.700 club, shooting less than 40 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 70 percent from the foul line. After a 1-for-7 (0-3 3PT, 1-2 FT) performance on Dec. 29, it looked like it wouldn't be long before Lawson went under those shooting marks.
But 2013 came and Lawson suddenly started playing like he did last season. In his last 15 games, the former North Carolina Tar Heel is producing 18.1 points (.476 FG), 6.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.4 threes while shooting .813 from the foul line.
Lawson gave fantasy owners a scare on Jan. 16 when he reverted to his early season struggles by scoring two points with one assist and four turnovers in 20 minutes, but he has put together an impressive seven-game streak since then.
In that stretch, he's averaging 20.3 points, 7.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.9 threes with .500/.542/.844 shooting percentages, and he is coming off his first double-double since mid-January with 21 points and 13 assists Friday night against the Hornets.
According to the Denver Post, Lawson's improved jump shot has helped his game tremendously. He is making his mid-range and off-the-dribble jumpers at a higher rate than he has all season recently. That has made it easier for him to get to the rim since defenders have to respect his shot.
"He's gotten more confidence making the mid-range jumper and also the 3-ball," Denver coach George Karl said. "Any type of threat that gives him more spacing and more ability to get to the rim, the better he's going to play. He's got to create some of that and we've got to create some of that (as coaches). And there's no question he's had a couple of nights (that) he was pretty incredible with his jump shot."
In the last seven games, Lawson has made 30 jumpers on 61 attempts, a 49.2 percent success rate. He only made 30.2 percent of his jump shots (95-315) prior to this recent stretch.
The important thing is that Lawson's game is less dependent on the jumper than last season, when 64.5 percent of his field-goal attempts were jump shots. This season, 60.9 percent of his shots have been jumpers. He has stuck to that paradigm even during his last seven games (59.8 percent jump shots).
Lawson's shooting percentage at the rim is down from 62.2 percent last season to 58.7 percent in 2012-13, but since he is taking more of his field-goal attempts there this season (38.1 percent of his shots to 35.2 percent), he's still scoring a higher percentage of his points at the rim (39 percent to 33.6 percent). That means making 50 percent of his jumpers is not imperative.
If Lawson can simply maintain a .408 shooting percentage on jump shots like he produced last season, he should be able to keep his scoring average close to 17 ppg over the final three months of the regular season.