Ah, the Houston Rockets. The team ripe for a drinking game played only at home. Flops? Complaints on obvious fouls? James Harden head jerks? Play this one safely, folks.
In any matter, tonight begins the first of four games the Dallas Mavericks will play in 2015-2016 against the Rockets. And of course, it’s on the second night of a back-to-back, as all four matchups were last season for the Mavs. With the Mavs 5-4 through nine games and the Rockets 4-5, each team is still looking for its identity.
The Mavericks obviously are once again integrating new players this year, with eight new members. Houston is largely the same group as last season, aside from one piece. But it’s a big piece. A piece that openly expressed his desire to be a Dallas Mav at one time. The piece has a name after all and it’s Ty Lawson.
The player I affectionately call “Tie Loss Win” because it’s too darn easy, Lawson was acquired by Houston this off-season for a package evenCorey Brewer would call a bag of chips. After becoming the face of the Denver Nuggets franchise, things came crashing down rather quickly.
Two DUI’s, an arrest and a trip to rehab combined with the Nuggets drafting Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall in June meant the end for Lawson’s time in Denver. The only thing of value that Houston dealt to Denver was a 2016 protected first round draft pick, otherwise the only thing they were taking on was the risk Lawson presented as well as risking the fracture of their team’s depth chart. They had a starting point guard after all in Patrick Beverley, but Lawson is no doubt an upgrade if his head is on straight.
So far this season, it has definitely not been. Last season, Ty Lawson averaged 9.6 assists a game, third in the league behind only Chris Paul andJohn Wall. This season he’s at 5.8, his lowest since his sophomore season. Of course he’s never played with a guy like James Harden. As annoying as Harden is, he’s one of the NBA’s most talented players but is also a very ball dominant two guard. With good reason, but Lawson’s game appears to be clashing with the runner-up MVP’s early on this year.
The Rockets’ new point guard is playing just under 38 minutes a night (a career high), but everything is down across the board. And dramatically. Albeit with a small sample size. 9.3 points per game is his lowest since his rookie year back in 2009. He’s committing more fouls than ever. His free throws have never been worse, he’s under 70% so far for the first time ever. His effective field goal percentage is over a full percentage point worse than it’s been in six Denver seasons. His standard, analytics-free field goal percentage is down to 31.4 percent. That’s…awful.
The big risk Houston took this off-season is not paying off in the least so far. Ty Lawson has been a ghost, except a ghost you can see quite clearly, because he’s playing most of each game. Is it Kevin McHale‘s call? GM Daryl Morey? How long will they ride this experiment when the incumbent point guard remains on staff.
It’s not quite Rajon Rondo-esque, as Dallas paid a far steeper price, but it’s a big investment nonetheless. And so far, it’s been a trainwreck even Amy Schumer wouldn’t partake in. But it’s oh so early. But also, who cares, it’s still very much the NBA season entering full swing if it hasn’t already.
Mavericks: Wesley Matthews (Achilles Maintenance) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back
Chandler Parsons (Knee) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back
JaVale McGee (leg) Questionable (listed as, at least; expected out for sure)
Rockets: Dwight Howard (rest) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back
Patrick Beverley (ankle) Questionable
Donatas Motiejunas (back) Out
Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki 17.8
Rockets: James Harden 28.8 (2nd in NBA)
Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia 10.2 (9th in NBA)
Rockets: Dwight Howard 12.7 (would be 2nd but not eligible yet for league ranking; 6 GP)
Mavericks: Deron Williams 5.3
Rockets: Ty Lawson 5.8
Rockets: Dwight Howard 2.0
Mavericks: Deron Williams 1.4
Rockets: Trevor Ariza 1.9
Mavericks: Raymond Felton 4.8
Rockets: Clint Capela 2.3