I think Lance is banking on Jordan preparing a personal touch to him, much like Bird did, but I just do not see that in Jordan's DNA. Bird has always been a guy who is focused on making other players better even back in his BOston days. Jordan made people better too, but he did it through fear. Either you play well or I will have coach bench you. Doug Collins talked about this with Bill Simmons how Jordan would remove people from the game with just a glance to the bench. I don't think Lance quite knows what he's in for. Jordan is not there to baby sit or be a father figure for Lance. He will either expect Lance to produce or Jordan will lose interest in him very quickly. That is a lot of pressure on Lance. I hope he is viewing that way because if he expects to have a Bird type of relationship with MJ he just won't. Bird has always clearly had a soft spot for guys with rough edges, Jordan on the other hand IMO won't make time for that.
Anyway, I think truly do think that Paul George's growth combined with the platoon of George Hill, CJ Watson, CJ Miles, Stuckey and Solomon Hill (Hopefully) will be enough to offset Lance. The biggest thing we will have to work to replace from Lance is his open court dynamic of getting out and running. I believe that the Watson/Hill backcourt can give us that sort of jolt if we play G. Hill off the ball. George Hill is the best athlete on this team and I believe encouraging him to get out and run as more of a "two guard" would be a good decision for 10-15 minutes a game. I believe that Stuckey can replace some of what Lance brought in the half court. Lance's half court impact is actually pretty over stated. He was good, but definitely not great, and Stuckey has been more proficient at gaining free throws than Lance has ever been. When you consider how often Lance drove to the hoop last year it is pretty telling that Lance only averaged 2.5 FT per game. I think part of this was the types of drives Lance took, a lot of them were fairly uncontested, Lance got a lot of open drives off of David West high post action and just from playing next to a guy who attracts as much attention as Paul George does, no reason IMO that Stuckey can't finish those plays the same way if he stays within the team structure, obviously that is an unknown but so is Lance's potential production in Charlotte so no reason we can't speculate both sides of the coin here.
Miles clearly improves our outside shooting from the shooting guard position. He is a great catch and shoot guy in transition which is something Lance IMO struggled with. Lance was best as a shooter when he had time to catch, set and release, which is fine, but I honestly believe Miles ability to catch and shoot in transition can improve our offensive efficiency by creating more open court opportunites. Lance is a tremendous 1 v1 open court player perhaps one of the best 10 guys in the league at this particular thing, but he also struggles to create for others in the open court which could often create an extremely ugly transition setup if Lance found himself in a bad situation, yes occasionally he would bail himself out with a great pass which I'm sure we all loved to watch, but often he would find himself dribbling or driving into a double team with no good release. Finally it brings me to Solomon Hill, offensively I believe we need absolutely nothing from Solo if he can hit a corner 3 then that is a bonus, I think Stuckey and Miles can both replace Lance's 13 PPG, what we need from Solo is the opportunity to give Paul George a break on defense even if it is just for 6-8 minutes per game against elite perimeter offensive guys. If Solo can come in and do this, then IMO we have replaced Lance by committee.
To me this is not addition by subtraction or even a 1 to 1 trade of talent (like say if we had picked up Dragic while losing Lance), this is a creation of a more identity based team, and no I'm not talking smashmouth or anything like that. The Pacers roster has the potential IMHO to function better as a unit than any of the teams we have had under Frank Vogel. And that is in closing my final point, this is Frank's greatest test yet, he has the talent and the matching pieces, now he just needs to put the engine together and put gas in the tank, not a small task by any means, but as I look at this roster I see the potential for all of these moving parts at the 2 position to help the Pacers make a better end product than what they could with Lance. That's not an indictment on Lance either, but it is just an observation based on the player Lance had become. Lance was a guy with a number 1 option mentality who is stuck next to a clear number 1 option. No matter what, Lance Stephenson was never going to supplant Paul George as the star on this team. It is entirely possible that for the betterment of both parties, Lance needed to go somewhere else and the Pacers needed Lance to go somewhere else. My only concern for Lance is that Charlotte was not the right place to go, but only time will tell on that front....
I believed that Lance and Paul could have eventually learned to play together under the new normal of who Lance is as a basketball player, but I also believe there was a learning curve there. One that in the end Lance IMO decided he would rather not deal with which is fine and I believe the Pacers have done a good job not necessarily of replacing Lance Stephenson the player but of replacing the different skills he brought to the table. True we cannot find another Lance, but we've found many of the attributes Lance had through other players. Now it's just time to see if we can get all the instruments in tune.
Anyway, those are my final thoughts on the subject. I eagerly await the start of this season as I believe the Pacers ensemble can play a more complete pleasant piece without Lance, it may lack some of the raw emotional power Lance brought, but in the end I believe the final product on the floor has the potential to be more fluid and melodious.