Once the regular season ended, 16 NBA GMs had their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that have been counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So with March Madness over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro continues profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe, so now we’re on to Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson.
Player Comparisons: Tyreke Evans, Ron Artest and Aaron McKie
Lance Stephenson has had an NBA body since the day he stepped on the court for Lincoln High School. Standing at 6-5 and weighing in at 210 pounds, Stephenson has the ideal body for a shooting guard. He also has the quickness, wingspan (6-10), and jumping ability. Stephenson nearly has all of the tools to be an elite athlete and a mismatch for all guards. The one problem comes on the defensive end. It appears that Stephenson lacks lateral quickness. The hard part to determine is whether it is a lack of determination or a lack of good sliding technique.
The untrained eye may have a tough time keeping track of what Stephenson does on the court. This can be due to his speed and excellent ball handling skills. He certainly fills part of the New York City guard stereotype in terms of knowing how to handle the ball and face pressure. He is also extremely good at creating his shot off of the dribble and converting. Since Stephenson can blow by people, he tends to go too fast at times and gets out of control. This is one of the reasons he averaged 2.4 turnovers per game. His ability to play both guard positions would help his stock more if he used his great court vision more often. As for defense, Stephenson knows how to get steals, but needs to figure out how to use his wingspan to his advantage.
Unless you are Kevin Durant or John Wall, another year of college never hurts. Stephenson is a raw athlete at the moment and could use a year or two to mature in college. For a freshman, he did put up good numbers, but he it is questionable whether he can make an instant impact like this in the NBA. The position he will play at the next level will determine whether he will be ready or not. Running the point is not easy for rookies, especially players who are not pure point guards. If you think about it, Jared Jeffries was getting serious playing time in New York because he had the ability to guard any position. Now imagine what kind of playing time Stephenson would get if he became more versatile.
It’s hard to deny Stephenson’s great talent. He is capable of being a great combo guard, one who can play both guard positions effectively. The only way that Stephenson can reach his potential is if he wants it. According to Chad Ford, he’s looking to quiet the critics and prove he is trying to change his attitude for the NBA. This would be a great start for Stephenson to reach his potential, but actions speak louder than words. Stephenson is infamous for being known as the next great player since middle school. Players with this label have a hard time overcoming the expectations.
Best Fit: San Antonio Spurs
Veteran NBA players are great to learn from, but veteran coaches are even better. The basketball genius Gregg Popovich would know how to put Stephenson in his place, along with Tim Duncan. The potential departures of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker would open up a spot for Roger Mason and Stephenson to battle for. Regardless of whether he wins the battle or not, it would be a great experience for Stephenson to actually have to compete for something for once.
Runner-up: Miami Heat
There is a good chance Dwyane Wade will leave Miami this summer. In the event of this occurrence, South Beach would be a great fit for Stephenson. He would be able to instantly come in and play. The roster could be very different considering a majority of their team will be free agents this summer. This will allow the Heat to completely start over and Stephenson has the potential to be a good building block. It would also be far from home, another underrated way to change an attitude.
What do you think?
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