NBA AM: How Ty Lawson Fits in Indiana


Ty Lawson Lands in Indiana

After getting bought out by the Houston Rockets earlier in the week, Ty Lawson has agreed to sign with the Indiana Pacers, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Expected to sign with the team on Sunday, Lawson adds a really interesting dimension to a Pacers team that has needed a more traditional point guard for several seasons now. And while he isn’t expected to challenge George Hill for the starting nod, there are a number of ways that head coach Frank Vogel can utilize his new backup point guard that really should help the team – not only down the stretch as they attempt to clinch a playoff berth, but also in the postseason should they end up there as expected.

For starters, Lawson’s up-tempo style of play will be perfect for a Pacers’ second unit that really does want to get out and run. Thus far, rookie Joe Young has been trying to hold down that backup point guard role and while Lawson’s numbers have been poor this year, he’s still an improvement over the undrafted rookie.

Secondly, Lawson’s ability to serve as a pass-first point guard could even let Hill play more off the ball, which could work to some of Hill’s strengths as an underrated scorer. While it’s true that one should back up the other, there’s no reason both couldn’t end up on the floor at the same time for stretches.

This signing could work well for the Pacers from a basketball standpoint, but it could also prove a godsend for Lawson, who needs to land with an organization that can help him get his good reputation back. Indiana has proven in the recent past that they can offer the type of support structure for troubled players to keep them in line. It worked for Lance Stephenson, who has been awful everywhere except Indiana, and Larry Bird could prove to be pretty good for Lawson too.

As Jared Wade of pointed out on Twitter Thursday, Lawson would be the eighth player from the 2009 draft class to have donned a Pacers uniform, which is rather poetic considering how much has been made of the fact that Indy could have had Lawson on the team seven years ago. Lawson was in serious consideration for the team’s 13th pick, but the front office, usually pretty savvy when picking in the late lottery, chose Tyler Hansbrough in the draft that year ahead of Lawson (and Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday).

Those are moot points now, though. Lawson will be given an opportunity to redeem himself and the Pacers have the backup, pass-first point guard they’ve needed for a few years now. Chase Budinger, who will not be eligible to play in the postseason should he sign with a playoff team, is the only real casualty in this deal, but the Pacers can live with that if the payoff is adding a player of Lawson’s quality – horrific year notwithstanding.

Jordan Hill Still Trying to Find Himself with Pacers

Jordan Hill, another part of that Pacers second unit, will be one of the players on the receiving end of Lawson’s dimes. But even with the new point guard, he recently admitted that there are days he feels like he’s still finding his own way in this Pacers lineup, a full five months after first suiting up for the team in preseason.

“I’m getting the ball when I’m out there, so I’ve able to show that I can score. I can get rebounds, do a little bit of this, little bit of that, but my minutes fluctuate sometimes,” Hill told Basketball Insiders. “That can be frustrating to me sometimes, but I know we’ve got a lot of guys that can play. We all can play, and that means it’s a good rotation for us. I’ll be alright.”

Depth is something every good team not only wants but must have to weather the injuries that come with a long NBA season. The Pacers’ frontcourt has been relatively healthy, however, which is why his minutes are down about five per game from his time with the L.A. Lakers a year ago.

Despite all that, Hill is happy with where he chose to sign this past offseason and feels like the year has gone about as well as he could have expected.

“I really get along with the team on and off the court,” Hill said. “I’m in a good spot right now. It could be better, but I’m having a good time. As long as we keep winning and keep doing what we need to do, I’m alright with [playing fewer minutes].”

Hill has been part of the team’s overhaul in a world without Roy Hibbert and David West, a frontcourt that helped lead Indiana to two consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. Even without those guys, and a more up-and-down, run-and-gun offense, Hill feels like the team still hangs their hats on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’re still good defenders,” he says, “even with Roy Hibbert and David West gone. We can do a lot of good things on that end, and that’s something that when I looked at the roster before deciding to come here, I thought that we really had some guys that can make some noise in the Eastern Conference. I thought it would be a good fit for me, and it’s been nothing but team ball all year. Hopefully we get a far as we want to go.”

He knows the team isn’t perfect on that end of the floor, but he also knows that to fend off all the competitors in the East scrambling for a playoff spot, that’s where they’ll have to excel down the stretch this season.

“Defensively, we’ve made our mistakes, but we can still do our job on that end,” Hill said. “We don’t always score like we want to, but we can still grind out the wins and that all comes down to our defense. We stop opponents that average 105, 110 points a game and hold them 90 or 95 points a game. I know sometimes we get frustrated on offense, when the ball’s not falling, but [if] we can just keep it all together defensively, good things will come to us.”

While dipping a bit statistically from his years in Los Angeles, Hill is still having the third-best year in his seven-season career. He’s playing the second-most minutes, shooting over 50 percent from the floor and contributing to a team that looks as though they’ll make the playoffs. It’s not a bad life for him right now, and he knows it. While it’s possible he expected a slightly larger role than he’s playing, his team is winning, he’s contributing and he’s being paid well for those contributions.

He’s still finding his way, but as his soon-to-be-former teammate Chase Budinger would probably attest, there are guys who would love to have that sort of stability.


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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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