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Ty Lawson and the Evolution of a Playmaker

Denver’s Ty Lawson never should have fallen until the 18th player in the 2010 Draft. He was the best point guard in college basketball, yet some questioned his ability to translate his speed to the next level. Questions answered:

In Ric Bucher’s article “How Fast is He?” in the March 8 issue of ESPN the Magazine, Lawson explains his though-process and development.

“In high school and my first year in college, I just went full speed, looking at the guy in front of me,” says Lawson. “Now, I don’t worry about him. I look at the second and third lines of defense.”

This is the evolution of a playmaker. Most players never move past the first line of defense. If they beat the first defender, they are committed to the drive to the basket, regardless of the other defender’s or offensive players. Sometimes, this works: aggressive players are often rewarded. Other times, the ball handler misses an open teammate, gets a shot blocked or is whistled for a charge because he did not see the next defender.

Players who see past the first line and read the second and third lines of the defense make plays because they know who is open and what lane to drive. They see the play developing before executing the skill rather than attempting to execute a skill (pass, shot) and make the decision simultaneously.

When players make this transition, the game slows down for the ball handler and their decision-making improves.

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