Three years ago the Indiana Pacers hit the jackpot with their two draft picks they had; in round one they selected Paul George at No. 10 overall and then they took Lance Stephenson with the 40th pick. These two players would soon help turn this young Pacers team into one of the best in the league.
Two seasons ago the Pacers faced the Miami Heat in the second round of the NBA playoffs, and at the time they really posed no threat the newly formed big three. Although Stephenson only averaged three minutes again and saw playing time in only four of the 11 postseason games for the Pacers, there was a moment during the series that really made us first know Stephenson. He was seen on the bench making the ‘choke’ sign and referencing it towards LeBron James. It may have been out of line, but it was just the type of person he is. Nobody knew that he would soon be able to back up his actions soon.
This season has been an absolute breakout year for Stephenson as he averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists; those numbers aren’t just good — they are downright impressive. He has now cemented himself as one of the top players on this team, and although his attitude can quickly take a turn for the worse, his play is very important to the success of his team.
Fans of the Pacers often refer to Lance as ‘good Lance’ or ‘bad Lance’, meaning that on most nights he is on one of the other extremes. He’s either helping and playing very well, flirting with triple-double numbers, or he is trying to force it and doing too much. It is often hard to remember that he is just a 23-year-old young man who is still experiencing his growing pains of the NBA.
Heading soon into the offseason, Stephenson will have a big decision to make for next year; he can either enter free agency and get paid by another team, or due to the contracts already in place for the Pacers, he can take less money and stay in Indiana. Larry Bird and the Pacers have done so much for him as far as giving him an opportunity that many other teams may not have provided, and this will result in Lance staying with the team that drafted him. But for now Lance will look to continue to play like he did in Game 2 to help his team advance to the NBA finals.