Lance Stephenson averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game in 2014-15. He shot 37.6 percent from the field and became the first player ever to take at least 100 three-pointers and make less than 18 percent of them. The Charlotte Hornets scored at a league-worst rate when he was on the floor, and Steve Clifford’s team defended a bit better when he was on the bench.
Before a sweeping late-season collapse that ruined their playoff hopes, the Hornets were 10-6 when Stephenson didn’t play, too.
Needless to say, this marriage between player and team didn’t exactly work out. Stephenson was a much better player one season prior with the Indiana Pacers, and Charlotte was simply better off when its prized offseason signee wasn’t in the lineup. Stephenson and the Hornets were divorced when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in June, a move that seemed best for both parties – but could nonetheless prove problematic for the inconsistent playmaker’s once-promising career.
But don’t worry, Clippers fans. Just in case you thought Stephenson was “trash” last season or even during your team’s exhibition slate, he’s here to remind you that’s definitely not the case.
Yes, Born Ready tweeted out his own highlight reel.
We’re not quite ready to call Stephenson “trash,” by the way. He’s an obviously gifted player, possessing natural playmaking talent rarely found in someone 6’5, 220 pounds. The 25-year-old is a very valuable defender when engaged, too, and one of the league’s best rebounders at his position.
But Stephenson’s inability to shoot is crippling, and he hasn’t found ways to make a positive impact without the ball in his hands. He’s prone to needlessly pounding the ball while surveying defense, compromising his team’s offensive integrity and rendering possessions almost entirely moot in the process.
There’s a role for Stephenson in the NBA, basically, especially if he rediscovers the jumper that made him a realistic three-point threat during his final season with the Pacers. But barring that unlikely development and a wholesale change in overall mentality, he’ll never star the way it once appeared he would – for the Clippers or any other team.
Stephenson isn’t “trash.” But that he feels the need to say he’s not only lends credence to those who believe otherwise.