The Pacers' Emerging "Big Three" of Summer League

by Jared Hay

July 11, 2012

Lance Stephenson has announced he has taken his talents to Orlando—The 2012 Orlando Summer League, that is.

After closing out the regular season in fine form, Stephenson has stolen the show so far for the Pacers in two Summer League wins. The 6’5” point guard led the Pacers to a 69-63 win Monday over Philadelphia and a 78-74 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Stephenson, 21 years old, is ready to begin his third NBA season. However, he has only one regular season start to his name.

He made sure to make that one start momentous.

The 2011-12 Pacers’ regular season finale on April 25 saw a confident Stephenson pour in a career-high 22 points in a loss to the Bulls.

Fast-forward to this summer, past the two playoff series in which he contributed just six points in twelve minutes of action, and it is evident that Stephenson hasn’t missed a beat since that potentially career-defining night against Chicago.

In a postgame interview with NBA TV on Tuesday, Stephenson shared how that performance changed his mentality.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," Stephenson said Tuesday. "I just know that I can play with anyone on the floor."

Day two of the Summer League was all his after a 28 point, 7 assist performance in the win over the Thunder. He did all of this without a single turnover, which might silence some of his critics.

"No turnovers, that’s part of being patient and protecting the ball,” said Stephenson. "I was very patient today and let the game come to me. I was trying to not force things."

Assistant coach Dan Burke, who is calling the shots from the bench this summer, noticed the confident play from his guard.

"I think Lance grew a little bit today," Burke said. "He tried to run his team, he shared the ball and did a good job defensively with a tough assignment in Reggie Jackson."

He made it all look simple on Tuesday.

Rookie Miles Plumlee will be praising Stephenson’s unselfish play after the guard penetrated and found the big man on the low block, which Plumlee converted with an authoritative slam. The play was almost identical to two other drive-and-dish opportunities Stephenson created the day before. On Monday, both Plumlee and fellow rookie Orlando Johnson were the recipients of Stephenson gifts.

Along with Stephenson’s emerging play, Plumlee and Johnson have both used their first two games as Pacers to highlight their strengths.

Plumlee grabbed 10 rebounds Monday and scored 14 points on Tuesday.

Johnson almost recorded a double-double on Monday. He led all scorers on Monday with 19 points and nine rebounds.

LeBron James’ announcement to “take his talents to South Beach” to create a Big Three with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh launched a trend of NBA teams creating their own "Big Three".

As players shift around this summer, teams creating a Big Three will continue to be a hot topic. Down in Orlando, the Pacers have created something of their own "Big Three" on this summer roster.

While it might not be an intentional mimic at the trend, the play of Johnson, Stephenson and Plumlee could be the “Big Three” to beat this summer.

The Pacers are in action against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at 11 am.