CLEVELAND – One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is when will A.J. Price and/or Lance Stephenson get some playing time.
A the rate things are going, it’ll take an injury to one of the players in front of them for that to happen.
“I thought O’Brien said Price was the best player for them in the preseason?” a fan recently asked me.
He was their best player, according to O’Brien, but T.J. Ford was also injured most of the preseason.
I was told Ford was playing better than Price in practice prior to his hamstring injury.
People continue to voice their displeasure over Ford.
I have to disagree with those people about Ford. He has had a very solid start to the season (contract years will do that to you).
Ford deserves to be in the rotation. He got the Pacers back in the game in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets on Friday and O’Brien went him for more than half of the second half against Cleveland on Saturday.
The Pacers want to win as many games as possible. Ford will help them do that. He’s also helping Darren Collison get through the ups and downs of learning O’Brien’s system.
This isn’t a knock on Price, who had a very good preseason, but Ford and Collison are the guys to roll with right now.
Things are a little different with Stephenson.
He’s gradually getting better, but he still has work to do on the defensive end.
There’s also a maturity issue with the 20 year old.
He doesn’t always go all out in practice and he has a problem staying focused.
Those things won’t get Stephenson any playing time, especially since that’s the only place he’ll be able to prove he deserves any minutes.
One of the things that frustrates the coaching staff is that they constantly have to repeat things to Stephenson.
That gets old after while.
How will the coaching staff be able to trust Stephenson in the game if he can’t grasp things in practice?
Besides, Stephenson’s not better than any of the rotation players at his position.