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Thread: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

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    Post Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    by Shady Botros Correspondent Written on May 18, 2010


    While the NBA Draft Lottery will be held tomorrow night, there are many hoping to have their name called in the first round. Had Lance Stephenson been asked a year ago about the draft, he would’ve thought he was a lock for the lottery. This year, however, Stephenson finds himself on the first round bubble.

    It's hard to see how this happened, considering this was his freshman season at the University of Cincinnati, where Stephenson played well, being named the Big East Rookie of the Year while averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.

    A year ago Stephenson was one of the top high school recruits in the country, a McDonald’s All American.

    ESPN had him ranked as the 12th best high school senior in the country, among the likes of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Xavier Henry, and Derrick Favors.

    Stephenson attended Abraham Lincoln High School (where he averaged 29-10-4 as a senior), the same school New York basketball phenom Sebastian Telfair attended. At Lincoln, Stephenson won the state championship in his sophomore and junior years, and he was named Player of the Year by the New York Daily News back-to-back years. Stephenson was named New York's Mr. Basketball as a senior and had NBA scouts anticipating the date he would put on an NBA uniform.

    He was dubbed “Born Ready,” and a Dime magazine cover said he could be an All Star in the NBA as a high school senior. Stephenson grabbed the attention of the New York media as the best New York basketball player since Sebastian Telfair.

    Stephenson also had a bad rep coming out of Lincoln. Many felt he was a selfish ball hog, a big-time scorer, and a head case for coaches. The bad rep scared a lot of schools away despite Stephenson being a top 10 recruit by many scouts. Last season, he seemed to have been on good behavior and distributed the ball well, averaging 2.5 assists.

    However the bad rep still follows him around and concerns scouts.

    After Stephenson made his commitment to the University of Cincinnati, he entered school with much well-deserved hype. Preseason scouts felt he was a likely lottery pick, a lock for the first round. However Stephenson didn’t impress scouts the way others in his class like Wall, Cousins, and Henry did. He didn’t dominate the Big East but won Rookie of the Year honors and put up very solid numbers.

    At the end of the season Stephenson told reporters he was certainly coming back for a second season in order to work on his game and polish up.

    "It’s not a disappointment thing," Stephenson said. "It just wasn't my time. I want to be a spectacular (NBA) player, not average."

    The thought was if Stephenson made improvements, he would become a top 10 pick. However reporters were shocked to find out Stephenson would be forgoing his sophomore year and declaring for the NBA draft, fulfilling his “Born Ready” nickname. Stephenson felt he needed to financially support his family, especially his daughter.

    The immediate reaction to Stephenson declaring for the draft was overwhelmingly negative considering Stephenson was in the same class as the John Walls and Xavier Henrys a year ago. As recently as this week during the pre-draft workouts in Las Vegas Stephenson addressed his bad rep, saying last season was a humbling experience for him. Stephenson realized that his pedigree as a high school phenom alone won’t help him get drafted. From now on, none of that matters.

    As for the scouting report on Stephenson, he is an elite talent. The 6-6 guard can score in a variety of ways, whether it’s slashing to the basket or settling for a mid-range jump shot, going down low or creating his own shot off the dribble. Stephenson’s game is very well-suited for the NBA.

    Last season at Cincinnati he showed the ability to handle running a team from the point guard position. Stephenson has the rare skill of being a physical guard, he doesn’t shy away from contact, and looks to go down low and post up sometimes—plus he relies on his strength to overpower others. He reminds me of a Stephen Jackson type who can fill up the stat sheet.
    However some still question his maturity, shot selection, and the fact that he isn’t an elite athlete according to scouts.

    Many believe Stephenson was just a darling of the New York media, and while that may be true to a certain degree, Stephenson is out to reverse the bad rep and prove his skeptics wrong.
    The reason he is the most intriguing draft prospect is that he is a guy who is a top 10 talent floating on the first round bubble. There aren’t 30 better players in this draft than Stephenson, and he’s likely not going until at earliest the mid 20s.

    Overall Stephenson is likely to be one of the most controversial players in the draft. But whichever team is getting him will likely take him in the late first round or early second, which means they’d be getting great value. With some coaching, mentoring, and some adjustments, don’t be surprised if Stephenson ends up being one of the most productive players in this draft.
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 06-25-2010 at 11:02 AM. Reason: provide paragraphs so it is readable

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    There was a bit of a philosophy change this draft and I can't say I don't like it. We have definatly swung for some home run kind of talent and while its a risk, it is exactly what we needed to do. Continuing to draft role players wasn't going to get us anywhere.

    Even if the pieces don't fit, aquiring big time talent will certainly help facilitate future trades, hopefully these players work out.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    I like this. The kid is getting out of the media spotlight by coming to Indiana. I think that alone will really help him. Add to the fact that he's a hard worker and now has a HUGE chip on his shoulder. I think the Pacers got very lucky with Lance.

    Prove all those doubters wrong! He should go and practice with Granger and Paul. Then spend some time with Crazy Hansborough.
    Lance + Starting SG = Awesome

    Now really free Lance!

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    This is hardly a glowing analysis from DraftExpress.com...

    Filling in the Blanks: NCAA Scouting Reports
    April 28, 2010
    Kyle Nelson

    Toward the end of his freshman season, Cincinnati shooting guard Lance Stephenson surprisingly announced that he would return for his sophomore year. Weeks later, he shocked few when he reneged on that announcement and entered the NBA Draft with an agent (reportedly his lawyer, Alberto Ebanks). While Stephenson always seemed like a one-and-done player, he had a subpar freshman season that exposed many of his flaws and showed the limit of his potential.

    Physically speaking, Stephenson has solid height for an NBA shooting guard at 6-5 with good length and a strong frame. As was the case in high school, he relies on his strength to overpower weaker players and compensate for his lack of athleticism. From a conditioning standpoint, he did not appear to be in ideal shape this past season, likely carrying an extra 10-15 pounds on his thick frame. He is quick in the open floor, but lacks the explosiveness and lateral quickness expected from wings at the next level. While he will continue to work on his strength and conditioning, there is no doubt that Stephenson is a below average athlete in the NBA.

    His offensive skill set, which is heavily reliant on isolations and muscling his way to the basket, will probably have to be adapted at the next level, given his lack of explosiveness and quickness. While Stephenson’s touch around the basket is not bad, his overall shooting during his freshman season was extremely poor. He shot a dismal 21.9% from beyond the arc, converted under 50% from inside the arc and made just 66% of his foul shots.

    On film, his shooting motion with his feet set is not terrible. He has a fairly fluid motion and release. But he has issues with excess lower body movement, and when he shoots off the dribble, his mechanics are less consistent and he has a tendency to fade away while shooting.

    The biggest issue here is Stephenson’s decision making. He settles for bad shot after bad shot, in spite of miserable percentages and open teammates. He seems to lack any sort of understanding of shot selection. Even when his shots were not falling, he forced the issue and, if his teammates sought their own offense, he tended to pout and fade into the background. This is likely the primary cause for concern from NBA scouts, as Stephenson has never really shown the ability to play team-oriented basketball and could certainly have issues adapting to a situation where he’s simply a role player.

    Stephenson does a good job of creating space off the dribble, showing solid ball-handling skills for his size. The effectiveness of his mid-range game suffers due to his poor shot selection, but he has shown an ability to find shots inside the arc and pull up off the dribble. Similarly, he was at his best last season when he attacked the basket both in transition and in half court situations, where he could use his size and strength to his advantage. He must improve his willingness to find the open man, though, as his tunnel vision often results in offensive fouls and untimely turnovers.

    Though Cincinnati did not field the most competitive or disciplined team last season, Stephenson’s lack of offensive efficiency and selfish style of play have been omnipresent throughout his career. During workouts, he must somehow convince scouts that he is capable of playing team-oriented basketball and has the ability to produce efficiently in a smaller role. As we have written before, Stephenson possesses NBA-caliber scoring abilities. His average athleticism and questionable decision making ability, however, may force him to work his way up through the D-League first.

    On the defensive end, Stephenson did a decent job at Cinncinati, but his lack of lateral quickness limits his potential in this area at the next level. He will struggle to guard bigger and more athletic guards in the NBA, though his strength and length will likely work in his favor. His strong frame also helps him on the boards, where he averages 7.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, pace adjusted -- solid numbers for a wing player.

    His behavior off of the court has also been a well-documented issue in recent years. He stayed out of trouble at Cincinnati, but he has accumulated quite a collection of red flags during his brief time as an amateur basketball player. Any NBA team that considers drafting him will have to do extensive research about his background, and decipher why he was in such a big rush to leave Cincinnati after such a sub-par freshman season.

    While there are a tremendous amount of obstacles in his way, Stephenson still has the potential to be a contributor at the next level at some point down the road. While his lack of explosiveness and mediocre shot selection are areas of significant concern, he has good scoring instincts and a decent offensive repertoire. Stephenson is sure to be one of the most controversial players in the draft. There is no guarantee that he will even be picked, but he may be able to carve out a career for himself regardless, a la Stephen Jackson.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by bphil View Post
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    This is hardly a glowing analysis from DraftExpress.com...
    For one I already now he's Improved his conditioning and nutrition... in a draft interview he said he's lost 15-20 punds (forget the total)

    No use aurgueing more... some are going to have to find something to be pessimist about (I know for me it's T.J. Ford and Solo )...
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    ...Last season at Cincinnati he showed the ability to handle running a team from the point guard position...
    That is a statement that I don't believe I have seen anywhere else. He is a good enough ballhandler, from the videos, and has great body control. I don't recall any instances of him actually running an offense where his role was to create for someone else. Can that skill be gained? It was the knock on Arenas, and the reason why he dropped to round 2, but it is still highly debatable that GA ever became a PG. It did work for Billups, though, who acquired PG skills after entering the league, but both Gil and Chauncey were very good shooters from the start.

    If PG is a viable long-term option for Lance, then it is a win. If not, we have a shooting guard who can't shoot.

    I will try to spin this nicely, in remembering the things said a long long time ago about drafting Vern Fleming--- he was a good athlete, a scorer not a shooter, and maybe not a true PG. Well, he became a fine PG, a team leader, a floor general, and a solid defender.
    Last edited by Slick Pinkham; 06-25-2010 at 11:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Again, from what I've seen, his demeanor... he's classic elite talent who probly won't put it together. There's a reason he was in the same highly-touted high school category as Wall, Cousins, etc... and then came out after a lackluster freshman season and went in the 2nd round.

    IF... and I say IF, he had come out to the NBA and got on a team with a heckuva coach and a winning system, I'd say he's got some potential to put it together in a few years... but he came to Indiana. So he's screwed. I don't even see how he's gonna get play-time in this system of jacking up 3s... his game is completely inside. And 66% FTs makes me sad.
    Last edited by Kid Minneapolis; 06-25-2010 at 11:31 AM.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    I just watched some footage of him during his time at Cincinatti and I'm by no means a talent scout but he has some unreal handles for his size. He could be a poor man's tyreke evans. I think this was a great pick and could really help us out

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    This is probably not a nice thing to say, but...

    The player Stephenson most reminds me of is Bonzi Wells. He's got PF game in an SG body with a bit of a bad attitude to boot.

    Chad Ford did tweet during the draft that we were trying to get a 2nd first to get Stephenson and that he was a great pick at #40.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by bphil View Post
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    This is hardly a glowing analysis from DraftExpress.com...
    haha don't forget he only finished his freshman year and is still very young. don't scouts ALWAYS question younger player's decision making?

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by mellifluous View Post
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    This is probably not a nice thing to say, but...

    The player Stephenson most reminds me of is Bonzi Wells. He's got PF game in an SG body with a bit of a bad attitude to boot.

    Chad Ford did tweet during the draft that we were trying to get a 2nd first to get Stephenson and that he was a great pick at #40.
    That's an interesting comparison.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    In his draft interview he said he had changed his diet and no longer eats at McDonalds. I think this kid wants to succeed and will do what it takes to get there. I like his attitude, lets hope he doesn't bring a posse with him to Indy like Williams did.

    A 2nd rnd 6'5 SG with a big upside... sounds great to me
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by aceace View Post
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    In his draft interview he said he had changed his diet and no longer eats at McDonalds. I think this kid wants to succeed and will do what it takes to get there. I like his attitude, lets hope he doesn't bring a posse with him to Indy like Williams did.
    In another thread someone mentioned he has cut all ties with his former New York friends... and will only hang out with his teammates.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite MAN_force View Post
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    There was a bit of a philosophy change this draft and I can't say I don't like it. We have definatly swung for some home run kind of talent and while its a risk, it is exactly what we needed to do. Continuing to draft role players wasn't going to get us anywhere.

    Even if the pieces don't fit, aquiring big time talent will certainly help facilitate future trades, hopefully these players work out.
    I can't help but feel that LB might be feeling the burn of not drafting Rondo when he had the chance. Or maybe not. The draft is a total crapshoot. Shawne Williams bombed but look how good Granger has become and they were drafted with at #17.

    A lot of good NBA players - All-Stars at that - have been drafted at #10 so hopefully George will be the latest #10 success.
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    I can put into words how thrilled I am by Bird and Companys draft. They acknowledged they need elite talent and came out like Albert Pujols swinging!!

    I will go on record now as saying this might end up being the best draft the Pacers have ever had

    I realize a whole lot is left to prove, but it was sooooo much fun watching the draft with anticipation, only for freaking espn to cut when our second pick was up

    Then the ticker said Lance Stephenson!! I am little biased having lived in Brooklyn from 1989-2004 (now I feel old), but everytime I saw this guy he screamed all-star

    As for being cocky, outside of Tim Duncan, what great players aren't?
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    While Stephenson is one of the most cocky and arrogant players I have ever seen, the kid can straight up play ball. Dominant with the ball in his hands, but needs to be a better team player. If Danny takes him under his wing and he learns to play team ball, this kid was an absolute steal, maybe the biggest of the draft.

    I don't mind the cockiness either, we have very few players who truly play with and "edge" so to speak. Stephenson has that edge I think we need.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Has it been answered if Lance can play the point at all? He seems to have the handles, I've seen him referred to as a PG at Cinnci in articles.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    Has it been answered if Lance can play the point at all? He seems to have the handles, I've seen him referred to as a PG at Cinnci in articles.
    He's not a fantastic team player by any stretch of the imagination, but he's not half bad either. His downside is he's a bit ball dominant, and looks for his own shot first as opposed to passing off to better options. But I suppose it's worth a try.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    I am 100% sold on the Stephenson pick.


    To me the stephenson pick embodies in a new culture in Bird+ co- it's time to get talent and drive for the win. If you didn't believe that after the George pick (a risky, swingy pick), you have to believe that from the Stephenson pick.


    I, for one, support our new risk taking Pacers overlords.

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    Has it been answered if Lance can play the point at all? He seems to have the handles, I've seen him referred to as a PG at Cinnci in articles.
    I don't think that'd be very efficient and I sure as hell hope Indy doesn't try to turn him into a pg.

    What impresses me most about this guy is his drive to win. He even wanted to become a lawyer to win arguments! lol! This to me really shows his persistence and stubbornness in winning, even if it means getting a little emotional. I'm totally down.

    All we need to do is help him develop his athleticism, potential, drive to win, and decision making into a more cohesive unit and we have an all-star!

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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Quote Originally Posted by mellifluous View Post
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    This is probably not a nice thing to say, but...

    The player Stephenson most reminds me of is Bonzi Wells. He's got PF game in an SG body with a bit of a bad attitude to boot.

    Chad Ford did tweet during the draft that we were trying to get a 2nd first to get Stephenson and that he was a great pick at #40.
    Another comparison (admittedly very lofty) is the ex-Buckeye Jimmy Jackson, never an all-star but a 14-year NBA player of similar size (6'6", 220), strength, and skill set but without any perceived attitude baggage
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    Default Re: Lance Stephenson: The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Prospect

    Hopefully this is not welcoming back what almost feels like the combo of Shawne and James White, wrapped up in saying all of the right things, coupled with having many of the right tools, and failing to deliver due to lack of the ability to truly leave the past behind despite claiming to.

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