Lance Stephenson was given the nickname "Born Ready" for his basketball skills while playing on the blacktops of New York City. But it is clear the Indiana Pacers rookie guard got that name for what he could do offensively, not defensively.
Stephenson, a second-round draft pick, has been a defensive liability during the first part of training camp.
"If we were playing a game tonight, he wouldn't get a minute," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said.
Stephenson's offensive skill allowed him to play in high school and college despite defensive shortcomings. That's not the case anymore.
His mistakes are broken down, either on the spot in practice by the coaching staff or the next morning during a video session.
"In college, I was definitely able to take shortcuts and try to get over," Stephenson said. "In the NBA, you can't get over. I have to get better at it."
Stephenson's biggest problem has been off-the-ball defense.
He's sticking to the true meaning of man-to-man defense. He stays on his man and doesn't pay attention to where the ball is on the court.
That was the case during a recent scrimmage when Stephenson stood and watched as fellow rookie Paul George caught the ball, squared his body to the basket and took an uncontested 3-point shot in the corner.
"I've got to be at the right spot on the court and see the where the ball is at when my man doesn't have it," Stephenson said. "The ball will be across court and I'll still be on my man. I'll get better at it."
The 6-5, 210-pound Stephenson is also having difficulty defending the pick-and-roll. He gets screened instead of fighting through the pick, or going around it when the opportunity is there.
O'Brien wants him to pressure the ball so it would be harder for Stephenson to get picked.
Stephenson was shifted from point guard to shooting guard in practice Monday because he couldn't stop Darren Collison on the pick-and-roll.
Playing Stephenson at shooting guard better conceals his defensive flaws, according to O'Brien.
"It all starts with ball pressure," O'Brien said.
"Pick-and-rolls are easier to guard if you pressure the ball. Sometimes young guys think it's easier to back off to avoid the screen. They'll still get screened. He needs to use his strength to jam the guy and push him toward the sideline or corner."
Stephenson, who came to the Pacers with a reputation for having a questionable attitude, has handled the criticism well. He listens and attempts to fix the problem right away.
The Pacers have enough depth at the guard positions that they don't have to force-feed minutes to Stephenson.
"I think he understands the difference between coaching and criticism," O'Brien said. "I see some growth in his defense. I told him I want him to come in with the goal to get better defensively each day. If he does that every day, it'll get to the point in time where he'll be good enough of a defensive player that he'll be able to get some playing time."
The Pacers have suffered their first two injuries in training camp.
Point guard T.J. Ford and forward Solomon Jones sat out most of practice with strained right and left hamstrings, respectively.
Both are listed as day-to-day.