Are the Nuggets crazy? They want to do what? How can creating more shots for physically gifted but offensively awkward big men JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried make Denver a better team? That's precisely what point guard Ty Lawson wants to know. It hasn't been easy for Lawson to make sense of how the Nuggets intend to play basketball. "I think it has been a little frustrating for him, to be honest with you," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said Tuesday, on the eve of the season opener at Sacramento. In the transformation of the Nuggets from the freewheeling approach of former coach George Karl to an offense designed to pound the rock inside, the toughest sell for Shaw has been convincing Lawson this new strategy can work. Take a peek behind the curtains of the first NBA training camp operated by Shaw, and the most fascinating development has been the test of wills in the building of a relationship between this rookie head coach and Lawson, the team's point guard and leading scorer. Change is hard. At times, there has been open disagreement between Shaw and Lawson. "Coach told me he wanted me to be aggressive. And I told him, 'Well, where do you want me to go?' How am I going to be aggressive if I beat my man, and then I have to beat the defender of our big in the lane, if he's standing in the way?" Lawson said. "The level of frustration was pretty high." To his credit, Shaw is bluntly honest that he issued a difficult challenge to how Lawson views the game, and his role. "We've made no secret about it: Our big guys need help from our guards," Shaw said. To his credit, Lawson has tried to see the logic in the new approach, rather than dig in his heels with a stubbornness his $10.7 million salary could allow. "It's been a big adjustment," said Lawson, who added he is slowly learning to pick new spots and ways to attack the defense. "I like to penetrate and touch the paint. It's a little bit harder when there are bigs in the lane, waiting for the post (pass). There's really nowhere for me to drive. Now, I'm working on passing inside and then cutting. I never really cut during my first couple years in the league. Now, cutting off the big could actually get me an easier shot, either from the corner or with a baseline layup. This could take my game to another level, make it more multidimensional." Have there been rocky moments? Yes. But Shaw and Lawson are working through their differences and, for better or worse, the hammer Karl sought to wield authority in the locker room has been replaced by a more open coach-player dialogue that characterizes the realities of NBA life in 2013.
New Nuggets coach Shaw knows transitional change can be tough
Denver Post | Oct 30