The Case for Lance Stephenson - All Star

lance stephenson

In an idealistic and intelligent world (let’s just call this world Donahueland), All Star rosters would be decided by a select few NBA minds who properly valued offense, defense, intelligence, and chemistry. In Donahueland, Roy Hibbert has been an All-Star for the past two seasons while Vince Carter hasn’t made one in ten years.

However, we don’t live in Donahueland. In the world we live in, Yao Ming and Vince Carter are eight-time All Stars with more appearances in the game than Walt Frazier and Scottie Pippen.

Exciting players like Vince and players from big markets (China) like Yao Ming often have a built in advantage over other, more deserving candidates. Each year, players get snubbed for one reason or another – just ask Stephen Curry about 2013′s squad.

There are probably six locks for the Eastern Conference squad this year – the five leading vote getters and Roy Hibbert. At this point, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving have a substantial lead over all other Eastern Conference guards and barring injury, will start in the backcourt for the East in February. LeBron James, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony lead the front court voting, leaving the East without a starting Center in the lineup. Roy Hibbert currently sits fourth in the front court voting, but the chances of him missing the All Star team this year are less than slim-to-none.

(Seriously, the blogosphere lead by basketball analytics people would cause a riot were Roy to miss the squad – he’s a safe bet to make it.)

The Pacers haven’t sent two people to the All Star game since 2004 when Jermaine O’Neal and the artist formerly known as Ron Artest made the squad. In all, they’ve only had multiple All Stars four times since they joined the NBA and they’ve never had three. But should they this season? In an Eastern conference that is weaker than a 67-year-old Sylvester Stallone in a boxing movie, both Lance Stephenson and David West should receive serious consideration for the squad. Today, we’ll look at Born Ready’s case to make the 2014 All Star squad, both from legitimate and less rational standpoints.

Lance’s Case – The Rational Arguments:

Assuming the Eastern Conference decides to fill out its squad with one or two other bigs and one point guard, there could be three to four wing spots available. The pool of Eastern Conference shooting guards is other-worldly awful.

Lance currently ranks ninth in scoring among qualified Eastern Conference shooting guards, but takes less shots and shoots a higher percentage than everyone in the top ten. Further, Jeff Green, Tony Wroten, and Jordan Crawford only play sparingly at the two, so Lance, for all practical purposes, sits sixth among true shooting guards behind Arron Afflalo, DeMar DeRozan, Joe Johnson, Gerald Henderson, and O.J. Mayo.

But Lance isn’t a one-dimensional player. He leads all qualified shooting guards in assists at 5.1 per game and flat out destroys the rest of the field in rebounding, averaging 6.7 boards a game – two more than his closest competitor. Stephenson is also a plus-defender, both individually and as part of a team’s overall scheme. He is the Pacers’ best answer to Dwyane Wade and often guards the other team’s best player when Paul George is taking his breaks on the bench.

Right now, Lance is either the second or third best shooting guard in the East behind Dwyane Wade (who is already on the team) and maybe Arron Afflalo. The Orlando guard averages 22 points per game and shoots 43% from three while also providing great defense for the Magic, but he’s not the playmaker or rebounder that Lance is. Fair or not, Afflalo also plays for the atrocious Orlando Magic and some of his numbers are most likely inflated due to his poor teammates. If team-performance is factored into the equation (I’m not here to argue yay or nay on that…it’s another issue entirely) Stephenson should be the first reserve shooting guard chosen in the Eastern conference, ahead of the higher scoring but inefficient gunners DeMar Derozan, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Henderson.

Bradley Beal, who has been hurt much of the season, may end up “qualifying” in a few more weeks and he would certainly make an interesting case for himself with his smooth outside shooting and sneaky athleticism. Still, 40% shooters that are scoring only 19 points on 18 shots a game should only receive real consideration if they are dunking over Frederick Weiss on a daily basis.

But wings in today’s NBA are oftentimes interchangeable. How does Lance stack up when the Eastern Conference small forwards are thrown into the mix? Here, Lance’s argument gets a little murkier as three guys – Luol Deng, Josh Smith, and Evan Turner can submit solid, All-Star worthy resumes.

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All three are plus-defenders that match Stephenson in rebounding. Lance averages more assists per game than all of them, but in turn, they all out-score him by a considerable margin. Fortunately, Lance may have one wild card in his favor – the fact that there are already three Eastern Conference small forwards on squad that were voted in by the fans. Would the East really take more than one of the above three players on a team with Carmelo, LeBron, AND Paul George? It’s possible that they could decide to make Josh Smith “a big” and take him and either Deng or Turner, but in that case, they would be choosing two players from below.500 teams ahead of the third best player on the team with the League’s best record. It wouldn’t be unprecedented – but it would be unusual.

Also of note, Lance leads the NBA in triple-doubles this year with three. That may not mean anything, but it’s yet another feather in his cap for his All Star Argument.

Lance’s Case – The 14-year-old me, but still kind of sort of legitimate arguments:

Remember, at the end of the day, All Star games are supposed to be fun. While Vince Carter and Allen Iverson may not have deserved to make 19 All Star rosters between the two of them, one can’t deny that the game was far more entertaining when they were involved. I’m just as excited to see Uncle Drew make some pocket passes this February as I am to see LeBron, Paul George, and Dwyane Wade simultaneously cover ground defensively.

Compared to the rest of the above group, Lance should be a slam dunk. Nobody is more exciting/wreckless/entertaining/frightening in the open court as The Eighth Grader, and he might be the most all of those things since a young Charles Barkley was wrecking fools in the mid-eighties.

Also, if Lance does this in the middle of regular games, can you imagine what kind of T-Mac off the backboard nonsense he may attempt in an exhibition game? 14-year-old me just started hyperventilating.

In all seriousness though, appearances by Bad Lance have been few and far between this year. The Eighth Grader has truly blossomed, not just into a solid role player on a championship contender, but into one of the most complete and best young guards in the game.

If Stephenson keeps playing at his current level for the next 45 days, his omission from this year’s All-Star squad would truly be a snub.

And voters – remember what Lance will do if you leave him off.



Lance Turtle


Consider yourself warned.

And Merry Christmas, Pacers fans!

Tags: Born Ready

  • Dennis Hawkins

    It won’t happen, but he has a case. He’s also playing himself out of our price range :(

    • Jack Wright

      I’m not so sure about either of those statements

      • Dennis Hawkins

        How much do you think all stars make per year? It’s not 7.5 mil. I think he’d give Bird a discount or the chance to match, but he’s not going to leave 5 mil on the table. It would be irresponsible.

        • hoosierfan8781

          And if there’s one word I’d use to describe Lance Stephenson, it’s “responsible.”

          I’m kidding, I don’t really disagree, as much as I wish I could. I just couldn’t pass that up.

        • Jack Wright

          irresponsible? pleease….. I heard a similar comment from someone on the radio and I wanted to throw up. Let’s just see how it plays out and not jump to any conclusions.

        • Jamie Rehmel

          I think 7-8 million is a reasonable estimation, based on the contracts that Mayo, Martin, and Ellis received last year. Even if Stephenson makes the all star team he’s still a fringe all star who makes A LOT of mistakes.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “irresponsible” as if one could not live off the pennies that is 7 million or whatever it would be. Lebron James and company took much less than they could have gotten other places and were celebrated, not considered irresponsible.

          Considering the amount of time it took the Pacers to win back their fan base, it would be foolish to not do everything in their power to bring back a fan favorite who helps make the Pacers into a championship caliber team. Without Stephenson, I don’t think the Pacers are nearly as good as they are now.

          Keeping him may mean biting the bullet and paying the luxury tax for one year until the team garners more flexibility prior to the 2015-16 season. I realize there isn’t any evidence yet, for the Pacers going this route. Nevertheless, I think it would be a huge mistake to let him go.

  • Go Heat!

    What a joke. Not only does he use a link that IGNORES Dwayne Wade, but he chooses an option that ignores the better shooting percentage per 48 of Ray Allen.

    Allen and Wade, All Star caliber, Stephenson, just a thug on a temporary hot shooting streak.

    • Filazafer

      He knows wade is an all star, but no one is going to vote for Ray Allen. He is a hall of farmer, but he is over 5 years past his prime. He is not an all star anymore.

    • Josh Boeke

      The discussion assumes Wade is already on the team, and the link doesn’t “ignore” anything, it is a qualified list (* To qualify, a player must be on pace to play 70 games or score 1400 points), a common practice when talking about scoring leaders. If a guy has played 1 game and happened to score 30 points, he isn’t leading the NBA in scoring. I think all that heat in Miami (assuming you’re actually in Miami, which is unlikely given what passes for a Heat fan these days) is effecting your reading comprehension.

      I know you probably don’t watch a lot of basketball outside of the Heat, not many Heat “fans” do, but if you’re honestly making the case that Ray Allen and his 10 ppg, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds, is a more deserving All-Star than Lance Stephenson then I can’t take anything else you say seriously.

    • Derek U

      How long do temporary hot shooting streaks last for? also, Allen? Really? Maybe if he played with Yao Ming…..

  • Filazafer

    I have been a Pacers fan my whole life and I hate to say it, but I guarantee Lance is going to get a max deal and if the Pacers don’t match then he is gone. He is not going to offer the Pacers a discount and he shouldn’t. Don’t forget that Roy Hibbert signed with the Rockets almost immediately. No one has hard feelings towards Roy. Most likely The Pacers are going to need to trade George Hill. With Lance’s improvement I’m sure Bird is sorry he signed Hill. This is going to very tough. It would be a shame to lose Lance, but you can’t blame him.

    • Jack Wright

      No one’s saying they would blame Lance. And don’t just ignore the fact that staying with the Pacers will be very enticing, too, given that he’d be a major piece on a powerhouse title-contending (“contending” being the worst-case scenario here) team for who knows how many years. (And will chemistry with teammates play a role in his decision?) Also, it’s not like he’d be stuck with ~7 mil for the rest of his career. When it’s time to resign him in 2 to 4 years (depending on the terms), our financial situation will likely be more flexible than it is now. I think people tend to get a little blinded by what may seem at present to be inevitable in the future.. But things have a way of working themselves out, and it’s possible that this won’t even be a relevant discussion in the coming offseason. Who knows what will happen. But for the time being, I know two things: 1) We have Lance right now, which is awesome, and 2) losing him after the season is not even close to guaranteed.

      • Filazafer

        Millions of dollars sitting on the table and Lance Stephenson is going to walk away so he can stay with The Indiana Pacers? No way. Paul George would have walked away if we didn’t pay him, just like Roy did. Lance is signing with whoever pays him the most money. No doubt. So the Pacers better pay. That’s why this year is so important. They may never have a shot like this again because they are going to lose Granger and someone else next year.

        • Jack Wright

          wtf ever dude just reread the part where I said that ignorant people think they know the future. actually i’m happy because ur opinion on this might raise the percentages of lance staying

          • Derek U

            guy has no idea what he’s talking about.

        • Jack Wright

          good job insulting the pacers with that first sentence of ur reply. u say you’ve been a pacers fan ur whole life? please. u have a looser definition of “fan” than I do.

          also, are u under the impression that roy hibbert no longer plays for the pacers…? and it was the blazers, not the rockets btw

          • Filazafer

            Roy was out the door and he forced the Pacers to pay up. Lance will do the same, as he should. But, yes, it was the Blazers. Glad you could get one thing right. And just because I tell the truth doesn’t make me less of a Pacers fan. Pacers are a small market and a lot of big names don’t want to play for a small market. Lance will stay if we pay him. If we don’t, he walks. I will bet a paycheck on it. And what does my opinion have to do with Lance staying or going? You think he is hanging out on message boards or something?

            And for your information, Larry Bird knows all this to. Mark Montieth said that Larry Bird said “We will try to keep Lance. If we can’t . . . we’ll find someone else.”

            Good way to look at it, but it is going to be a shame if Lance is gone.

    • Ian

      While I think its going to be a challenge to keep Lance, he’s not getting a max deal. Yes if he continues to score 20 or post triple doubles in every game then its possible, but that seems likely. he is still prone to extended cold streaks like he had in November where his shooting dropped off and he averaged 12 ppg. He’s also still pretty turnover prone.

      As good as Lance is, I don’t think there are many teams who are going to want to pin their entire future on hoping Lance blows up into a superstar, especially considering his history.

      • Filazafer

        He is 23 years old and has more triple doubles then any other player in the league. More then Chris Paul, more then Lebron James. He is 23. You don’t think a team is going to give him a max deal? I completely disagree. These stories just keep popping up:

        –”NBA Teams Who Should Poach Lance Stephenson Away from Indiana Pacers”
        The Pacers will have about $5 million a year to offer Lance, in their current situation. Keep in mind that Tyreke Evans got a deal starting at $10.3 million this offseason, and Stephenson is in the same neighborhood in terms of skills and production right now. Teams will be prepared to offer significantly more than that for a 23-year-old player on the rise who has played a significant role on a title contending team.–

        • Ian

          If you read the rest of the article, the writer seems to be saying that Lance will most likely stay. Compaing him to Evans is interesting, in that Evan’s contract already looks like a disaster for the Hornets.

          The teams that are in position to go for him are mostly doormats with bad organizations and in cities that would not be an upgrade over Indy (Milwaukee, Salt Lake City). I’m not saying the Pacers will keep him for cheap, they need to be in the same ballpark as these other teams. I think its possible Lance signs a shorter deal, hoping that he’ll get an even bigger payday down the road.

          The Pacers will almost certainly need to renounce Scola and/or move Copeland/Mahinmi, or trade George Hill, as painful as that might be.

          • Filazafer

            Finally someone making some sense. I agree with everything you are saying. I would be fine with moving George Hill. I like the guy, but I am not sure cj Watson couldn’t give the pacers about the same production. Copeland is looking like a mistake. Scola and mahimi I would like to see stay. They are playing good.

          • Derek U

            Good, because you aren’t.

        • thechamp5400

          With Granger off the books or a smaller contract (~$3-4 million) they could sign him to a near max deal at around $11-12 million.

        • Derek U

          You act like 3:2′s = NBA Greatness. We all love Lance, but his consistency isn’t in the ballpark of a max contract yet. No one is going to offer him a ‘max’ deal and if they do let that be to their detriment.

    • Jamie Rehmel

      Dude, you’re smoking crack if you think anyone is giving Lance Stephenson a max contract. Roy Hibbert got a max contract because he is 7’2″ and a dominant defensive presence; players like him are rare. There are a ton of players that do things similar to Lance.

      • Filazafer

        You aren’t even paying attention. Right now Lance is playing better then PG. Lance has more triple doubles the Lebron James or Chris Paul. If not max, it will be very close. He’s only 23.

        • Derek U

          lol, back up guy. Better than PG? He’s making highlight real plays, but he hasn’t had consistency anywhere near PG. He’s not a max-deal player and if someone offers him that I hope he walks. You’re putting too much stock into the three 3:2′s that Lance has already……

          • Filazafer

            You wait. PG is our number one option. You make Lance Stephenson the number one option and his numbers would be better then PG. PG doesn’t handle the ball as well. He doesn’t pass or rebound nearly as well as Lance. Larry Bird was the one who said Lance had the most talent of any of the Pacers and he was right. Lance is only going to get better and another team that is struggling his going to be happy to throw money at him.

          • Derek U

            Sure, but you’re forgetting the one thing that will cripple Lance with most teams he could play for. His mental stability; guy has a few screws loose, but on a team like the Pacers where everyone checks each other he’s able to be himself without all the spotlight. I’m not saying he isn’t dynamic and isn’t a playmaker, but he disappears in games far too often, and he’s been head hunting for the few triple doubles he’s had. With mental fortitude he could be truly one of the greats, but unfortunately he’ll always lack in that area.

  • ᗪEᑎI ♛

    Lance will get payed,depends how well he does vs Miami Heat in the 2014* Eastern Conference finals

  • thechamp5400

    Info for all:
    Lance WILL NOT be a restricted FA so the Pacers don’t have to match anything. And since Lance already guaranteed he will stay there is nothing much to worry about.

    • Filazafer

      He will be an unrestricted free agent, so there is a lot to worry about. That’s why there are articles like this popping up all over the internet
      “NBA Teams Who Should Poach Lance Stephenson Away from Indiana Pacers.”
      I say match because I assume he will stay if the Pacers are willing to pay as much as another team. Otherwise he will walk.

      • thechamp5400

        I think it’ll depend on the teams he receives offers from. Right now all Lance wants is winning. So what if Wade retires (there are rumours) after this season and the Heat make him a good offer Indiana can’t match?

        • Filazafer

          Wade is not going to retire and Lance wants money, just like everybody else.

          • thechamp5400

            That was just a case with Wade.
            To Lance, again: The Pacers can offer him pretty much because Granger’s contract ends after this season and the way he’s playing right now, he’ll be offered around 3-4 million $ after this season. Assuming Granger accepts this offer, the Pacers have another 10 million to offer Lance what could increase the following years with Orlando Johnson and Copeland coming off the paycheck. And if Lance wants to stay, those 11million are definetely enough

          • thechamp5400

            Geez I forgot PG’s new contract.

          • Filazafer

            PG gets a raise for being an all star. The pacers will only have about 5 million to give Lance. It’s not enough.

          • thechamp5400

            Right. With PG’s contract, there’s much less money to play with. The only case in which Stephenson stays is the case in which the Pacers are willing to go over the salary cap. Maybe the REASON for not wanting to get over the salary cap this season was to have enough money to play with after this season to tie up Stephenson/Granger (whoever had the better season(Stephenson)).

          • Scott Lagler

            actually pg turned down the 5 million dollar raise a few weeks ago. He will make 14-15 instead of the 19 million.He instead gets a player option for a 5th year. still only have about 8-9 million to play with

          • Guest

            Keep in mind that PG already absorbed Granger’s contract (his numbers don’t start till next year)

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  • Ian

    I’ve been thinking about this some more. Assuming that Lance continues to play at the high level he’s been reaching the last few weeks, he’s going to be very expensive. We should just assume that regardless of a discount for the Pacers or not, he’ll be significantly more than we can fit under that cap currently.

    Fundamentally, if, again, Lance continues at his current level of play, he’s cementing himself as a franchise cornerstone quality star. As we all know, its really hard to get those in Indiana. The Pacers essentially will have 3 pieces on their roster that really can’t get replaced anywhere else: George, Stephenson and Hibbert. These need to be thought of as the big 3 going forward and whatever is required needs to be done to keep them.

    Now, its not my money, but my belief is that Simon should be willing to go over the tax IF the Pacers win the title, given all the revenue the team is likely to bring in from that. But I wouldn’t expect that for more than 1 season, given the way penalties escalate. If the Pacers win the title I think they should give Lance what they need to keep him, bite the bullet and make one more run with the current squad.

    If they don’t win the title, then essentially everyone but the big 3 are movable, including West. Stephenson and George are so versatile and can do so much, and Hibbert is so dominant in the paint, that eventually the team can find other lower-cost pieces to put around them, similar to what the Bulls and Heat have done. The opposite is not true. Replacements for those 3 are likely to never be found.

    Either way, we should assume the team as assembled won’t be together past next season. I think that’s ok. the Players know its a business. I think the Indy fans will be very happy to know that we have 3 studs in their prime to make several more title runs with.

    I repeat, again assuming that Lance continues his current level of play, lets hope the Pacers front office is cold blooded enough to realize that those 3 guys are the franchise, and everyone else is moveable, even if its just for trade exemptions.

    • Jack Wright

      I generally agree with all this, particularly the importance of keeping lance, PG and big roy on the team long term. they are irreplaceable. but I do think we can keep the big 3 plus david west around next season. we’ll see

  • Kevin Weaver

    For everyone who seems to be worried about whether the Pacers will/can re-sign Stephenson, keep in mind the Pacers have his Bird Rights. They can exceed the cap to keep him without getting penalized. I think he also recognizes he wouldn’t have a career were it not for Bird and the Pacers, and both sides want to figure things out. Most importantly, Lance really wants to be back with Indiana, as he may not fit in as well anywhere else. Check out the article below and you’ll probably be much more confident that the only major player who won’t be in a Pacers uniform next year is Granger.

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