Sports fans in general have really short memories, and it seems that nearly every NBA fan outside of Denver has forgotten how good Ty Lawson used to be. He ran an up tempo offence in Denver to perfection and he has been brought to Indiana to perform a similar role. George Hill has performed well this season, but you've got to think Vogel and Bird see Lawson as a potential long term option for the team. His contract is undisclosed, but you have to imagine it will be a sort of low risk deal with the potential for a high reward.
The signing of Lawson however should not mean George Hill being pushed to the side, he could be a great second point guard. However, I fully believe that Frank Vogel should consider playing both of these guys together, it would get the best out of Lawson and Hill would still be useful because of his perimeter shooting, his defence and his ability to make the extra pass, the offence would in theory run very smoothly.
Ty Lawson's best two seasons at Denver were in the 2011-2012 season and the following season, both were under George Karl but they had one thing in common. In the first of these two years, he played with Arron Afflalo who is an unselfish guard who is happy to slot into the corner and create space for drives. Similarly, he had Andre Iguodala as his starter in the second of these seasons who is also a rangy yet unselfish player who doesn't require a touch of the ball on every single possession. The net effective field goal percentage was +.026 when Lawson and Andre were on the floor together, this was a team high for a two man pairing that played significant minutes (over 250 minutes). I am not saying George Hill is a similar player to Andre Iguodala, what I am saying is that there is a great deal of evidence to suggest Lawson has to run an offence- not watch one. George Hill on the other hand is a good distributor and likes to run a half court offence, but he can just as easily be part of someone else's offence due to his good perimeter shooting and his high basketball IQ.
Lawson had some great experience playing in a two-point guard lineup,this also came between 2011 and 2013 when he was used alongside Andre Miller for around 800 minutes of the season. In the first of these seasons Lawson and Miller's combination led the team in Field goal percentage, free throw attempts and assists. The team ran smoothly and the two best five man lineups in terms of field goal percentage both contained a Miller-Lawson backcourt with two of the large assortment of big men George Karl had built up. Andre Miller was great in servicing Lawson and giving him the ball in good situations where he had the right driving angles to get easy buckets in the paint, there is no reason why Hill cannot do this.
Driving is obviously the main part of Lawson's game- in his 13-14 season at Denver he attempted 11 drives per game and was ranked 18th of the 69 players who attempted four or more drives per game. This is his main strength and he drew fouls more than any other Nugget whilst he was driving to the basket. He passed the ball around 46% of the time on drives which gave his game an heir of unpredictability. He had good perimeter options in Denver and smart guards who created the right driving angles for him, George Hill could fulfil this role to a similar extent that other did while Lawson was a Nugget.
Hill is terrific in catch and shoot situations, he is 8th in the NBA in three point percentage on catch and shoot attempts (players who take three or more) , this means he is a reliable option alongside Lawson because the opposition will have to press him in the corner as opposed to close down the driving angle. In Houston, Lawson had four catch and shoot targets who all shot around 40 percent (Harden, Ariza, Beverley, Terry) but he was never given the chance to run a unit, this should absolutely change in Indiana. With good shooters and the ball in his hands, Lawson can wreck havoc on opposing defenses with his quick step and his deadly speed on the drive, Hill's shooting makes this backcourt a scary possibility for other teams to face.
Running out of time:
I do appreciate during the midst of a playoff run that experimenting may not be the most popular thing, but Lawson can help immediately if he is put into the right situation. If he has a genuine catch and shoot threat on the perimeter and an athletic big man inside the paint, he could genuinely return to the form of a top ten point guard. Hill is a great fit, he can spread the floor and find him in space for open shots and for good driving angles. The bench unit can often be stagnant, so whilst Paul George and Monta Ellis get their rest- using Lawson and Hill as a combination could work extremely well. Hopefully we can see some more shot charts like the one below.
Ty Lawson 2012-2013 shot Chart courtesy of NBA.Com
We do not know yet whether Lawson will succeed in Indiana- but whenever you sign a player you have to take scheme fit into account. The Houston Rockets' ineptitude could be the Indiana Pacers gain- but he has to be used properly. He may not have earned the right to have an offence built around him, but if he is a square peg- then he cannot be put in a round hole. Having him as a spot up shooter would be a nonsensical strategy, he needs shooters on the side and a big man in the paint to play off of. If he is put in the right situation, he could be really good and his size and quickness will help defensively against the likes of John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas.