You could say that Lance Stephenson was the best player on the court for the Indiana Pacers not only in the Eastern Conference Finals, but in the playoffs overall.
He scored, he defended, and he got underneath the skin of opposing players. Even if you call his antics buffoonery, what can’t be understated is that his competitive nature and play gave the Pacers life when the team seemed all but dead. Stephenson was the spark, the glue that kept Indiana from falling apart.
Not many of his teammates appreciated Stephenson’s “unorthodox” style to playing the game, which is wrong on their part, because he was the only Pacer to perform consistently well in the playoffs. For all of the praises we heaped on Paul George for his emerging superstar status, Stephenson’s rise from a mere role player to the second best player on the team is even more remarkable.
But alas, Friday night could very well be the last time we see Stephenson in a Pacer uniform, and in my opinion, his career would be all for the better if he left Indianapolis.
Despite his nagging ways — which in a way resembles Bill Laimbeer‘s role during the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” heyday” — Stephenson is also a gifted offensive player and a surprising lock-down one-on-one defender. Stephenson’s two-way talent would be better served on a team with better talent, or on a team where he could unleash his entire repertoire.
Mark my words, Stephenson will be a star in this league. But the way the Pacers are talking, it will not be in Indiana. And it very well may be a blessing in disguise. So if you’re a Pacer fan, get out the Kleenex right now, because Stephenson’s time in Indiana has come to an end.
And maybe, he will go to a team that will appreciate his services.