Lance Stephenson may not be Carmelo Anthony, but he’s no slouch either. At just 23 years old, Stephenson may be a viable option for the Chicago Bulls and their Plan B.
Stephenson has yet to re-up with the Indiana Pacers because he is looking for upwards of $10 million per season, but with him at the prime of his career with room to improve, it is a gamble the Bulls should be willing to take. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound shooting guard has steadily improved his past two seasons, and there is reason to believe his development will continue, especially if he played under a coach like Tom Thibodeau who is known to get the most out of his players.
Last season in Indiana, Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 4.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. Three-point shooting is an area he could improve, but he is a willing passer and able to create his own shot — an area the Bulls need help in. Most importantly, Stephenson fits into the Bulls’ identity — a strong defender with a high motor and effort.
Stephenson’s well-documented antics have scared most teams away from potentially signing him, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the Bulls. Chicago’s roster is filled with high character veterans such as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich who will be able to keep him in check and mentor him — unlike the Pacers team which didn’t have any leadership.
Stephenson would start in the backcourt with Derrick Rose with a frontcourt of Noah, Gibson and probably Jimmy Butler. Doug McDermott and potentially Nikola Mirotic, D.J. Augustin and Hinrich would come off the bench.
The immaturity Stephenson showed last season and throughout his career won’t be tolerated in Chicago. He will be able to grow and adapt to the Bulls’ locker room culture. As a potential All-Star, the rewards far outweigh the risks of having him on the roster.