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Summer League guy to watch: Lance Stephenson

Jul 5, 2010, 7:57 PM EDT

lstephenson.jpgLance Stephenson tried to tell us he was “born ready,” the nickname he picked up at the legendary Rucker Park playground games in New York.

Pacers coach Jim O’Brien tried to tell us he was ready.

But until we saw it for ourselves, we weren’t convinced. We’re stubborn like that.

We’re convinced. Lance Stephenson is ready and going to get some burn for the Indiana Pacers this year.

Most people projected him as a two guard, a slasher — the guy has been able to create his own shot since he was a high school sensation in New York. He was a top recruit who went to Cincinnati and… faded. He was a strong 6’5″ guard who just overpowered people in high school, then seemed to struggle with that in college. He didn’t look like a great athlete. That’s why he fell to the second round.

But in the run-and-gun Pacers system, O’Brien saw Stephenson playing the point, getting the ball in his hands as a scorer in transition.

One Summer League game counts about as much as the Electoral College votes from North Dakota, but if that is a bellwether it looked like O’Brien was right. And Stephenson was right about himself. Stephenson had 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting, plus he got to the line eight times.

He’s a scorer, but he made some smart passes as well. A guy who could come in off the bench and provide a scoring spark and quickly become a fan favorite. A guy who still has a little of that Rucker Park flash to his game (which also led to a couple poor decisions, you can bet O’Brien is not going to tolerate many of those moves).

But in a Summer League game – where guys should be busting it hard as they are playing to get noticed by scouts, both NBA and from Europe — Stephenson’s energy stood out.

Being a Summer League star is no indication of success. But it’s something, a sign of potential. And Stephenson has that. He could be a big boost to a Pacers team that lacked much spark at all last season.

  1. Chuck - Jul 5, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    A steal which makes most of the NBA GMs overpaid if they make $10,000. If you saw him play for a terribly coached team (same as Derrick Favors) couldn’t you project him as a NBA player. Nope. Good for the Pacers.

  2. Jerome - Jul 5, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    Lance is the truth tj ford better watch out there’s a new PG in town.

  3. mike - Jul 5, 2010 at 11:16 PM

    ive said it over and over the type of player lance is is all nba…… not college.now larry bird will be putting a cigar in his mouth like red did when he drafted larry

  4. Albert - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:23 AM

    I’m on record since the All America game in 2009 saying that Lance should play PG.
    He has eyes in the back of his head.

  5. cory - Jul 6, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    i was a huge fan of lance when he played in cincinnati….i actually went to sum of the bearcats games n watched him play….i wish he wulda stayed in college for at least his sophmore year tho to develop a lil bit more skilled jumper so hed b a perfect NBA fit….but its cool and good luck to lance!!!

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