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June 25, 2009Taken with the No. 18 selection of the first round of Thursday's night's NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, former North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson was promptly traded to the Denver Nuggets for a protected first round 2010 pick.
The Timberwolves effectively drafted Lawson on behalf of the Nuggets, who did not have a first round pick in this year's Draft.
Denver's first selection was the No. 34 overall pick in the second round, which was ultimately used for another point guard---Sergio Llull of Spain---who was then traded to the Houston Rockets.
Lawson will almost certainly begin his professional career as a backup to longtime NBA veteran Chauncey Billups, but he'll have a golden opportunity to mature and grow as a player as part of a talented playoff team led by two former Tar Heels---head coach George Karl and assistant coach Doug Moe.
"Ty Lawson, going to Denver, playing behind a guy like Chauncey Billups, I think he's going to be a heck of a backup and a solid player," said basketball analyst Dick Vitale in an ESPN interview after Lawson's trade to Denver was announced.
Karl and the Nuggets considered drafting Lawson in the 2008 NBA Draft before Lawson decided to return to North Carolina, where he led the Tar Heels to the 2009 NCAA title in Detroit.
"Detroit (the Final Four) was pretty good, and those three guys up there on the board are what made that possible, so I'm extremely happy for them," said UNC head coach Roy Williams. "I'm sitting here feeling as lucky as I can be, because Ty's going to Denver---that's a great fit---Tyler's going to Indiana---that's a great fit---and Wayne now. I couldn't be any more pleased."