On Tuesday afternoon, Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith surprised everybody by suiting up and playing in Denver’s 1:00 PM Summer League game against the Chicago Bulls.
Smith has been an NBA rotation player for some time now, and he was in the mood to put on a show against Chicago’s unimpressive Summer-League squad. Smith fired a flashy no-look pass, drained one of his signature quick-trigger three, and even made a weaving shake-and-bake drive through four defenders before finishing with a soft reverse layup.
In a normal Summer League game, Smith would have been the main attraction. But on Tuesday, not even Smith’s relatively big name and flashy play could take the spotlight off of Ty Lawson, who has been absolutely dominating the Summer League.
Lawson had a very promising rookie season, and it looks like he’s ready to have a breakout sophomore campaign. Lawson is simply on an entirely different level than his Summer League opponents. He tallied 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds on Tuesday, and all that came in only 20 minutes of play.
When Lawson decides to drive, nobody can stay in front of him. He’s made tremendous strides in his ability to shoot off the dribble, and hit some very tough end-of-clock shots on Tuesday. He knows when to make the pass, and his deliveries are almost always on target.
Instead of thinking he’s too talented to take Summer League seriously, Lawson has used Summer League to send a message to the rest of the league. Through five games, Lawson has absolutely torn Summer League apart. He won’t toy with NBA defenses the way he’s toyed with his opponents in Vegas, but one should expect big things from Lawson next season.