COMMENTARY | Pop quiz: Who is the only point guard in the NBA to average more than 20 points and 8 assists per game this season?
Chris Paul? Steph Curry? John Wall?
To be clear, no member of the Nuggets will win the MVP Award this season. But with that said, Lawson is playing at an MVP-caliber level, improving in nearly every major statistical category.
Lawson's per-game averages are simply jaw-dropping: 22 points, nearly 9 assists and 4 rebounds.
Derrick Rose, the last point guard to win the MVP Award, finished that season with averages of 25 points, nearly 8 assists and four rebounds per game.
Steve Nash averaged 19 points, 10.5 assists and 4 rebounds during the second of his back-to-back MVP seasons. He averaged 16 points, 11.5 assists and 3 rebounds during the first MVP year.
The difference, of course, is that Nash and Rose put up those numbers on a contending team.
Lawson has done his best to keep the Nuggets competitive, despite management's disappointing roster and coaching moves. The team had a shot at making a deep playoff run last season after posting 57 wins, but was knocked out in the first round by Curry's lower-seeded Golden State Warriors.
After the quick exit, the team let general manager Masai Ujiri depart to the Toronto Raptors and fired head coach George Karl, the respective NBA executive and coach of the year after last season
The Nuggets didn't re-sign star forward Andre Iguodala. Instead, they added the likes of Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson and Randy Foye, not exactly title-contending building blocks.
On top of playing with less talent, Lawson is learning a new offensive system under first-year head coach Brian Shaw.
"I think it has been a little frustrating for him," Shaw said earlier this season about Lawson having to adapt to the new system.
Despite those challenges, Lawson has managed to increase his scoring by more than 5 points per game. On top of that, he's dropping nearly 2 more dimes per contest.
Playing through a minor eye injury on Saturday night against the Houston Rockets, Lawson posted a career high 17 assists while scoring 28 points.
Against the Phoenix Suns two weeks ago, Lawson scored 21 points in the third quarter to help erase a 17-point half-time deficit. He single-handedly outscored the entire Suns team in that quarter.
The Nuggets are 4-6 and headed for the lottery at this point. Without Lawson, the team would easily compete for the worst record in the league.
But with Lawson playing at an All-Star level, the team should contend for one of the last playoff spots, especially if forward Danilo Gallinari returns from knee surgery sooner rather than later.
Lawson received a single 5th-place vote for MVP after last season, the only Nuggets player to garner consideration.
If the Nuggets manage to sneak into the playoffs, and Lawson continues at his current statistical pace, the beloved Mile High Road Runner should land in the top 5 behind the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and James Harden.
Andy Vuong lives in Denver and is a former Nuggets season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @andyvuong.
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