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Stephenson Hits The Ground Running

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

March 4, 2011

Each game, we're seeing a little more. And each game, he's showing a little more. The whole idea behind the plan to develop Lance Stephenson is to move carefully, cautiously. Don't give him too much responsibility right away. Let him get his feet wet, get a taste of the NBA and see how it digests.

Of course, it appears Stephenson had his own plan: hit the ground running and see where it leads.

In his third NBA appearance, Stephenson was the Pacers' best player with 11 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in a 113-89 loss to Oklahoma City. He got to the basket at will, made a couple of seeing-eye passes and generally used his rare combination of size, strength, quickness and agility to full advantage.

At least on the offensive end. Defense, well, I believe the code phrase these days is "work in progress."

"He’s doing better than I expected he would, just from a standpoint of nerves, anxiety, never having been in it," said Frank Vogel. "He's just a basketball player. Everyone who knows him that's what they said. He's a gamer.

"(It's) just a matter of calming his adrenaline down and getting used to being out there and that's what we're going to do each game, we're going to get him some minutes."

Stephenson thus far has totaled 34 minutes, 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Makes you wonder what he might produce once he figures out what he's doing.

Of course it is far too early to draw conclusions. But it's never too soon to try to look down the road and see exactly how Stephenson might factor into the plan. Be assured, though, he does factor into the plan.

"He's a terrific talent. He's a top-tier talent," said G.M. David Morway. "He's very young, he's just learning how to play the game. When he played in high school and even last year at Cincinnati the ball had to be in his hands. So he's having to learn not only to play without the basketball but he's also having to learn how to play defensively. …

"But he is a great talent. He has great size, he can handle, he sees the floor, he's got great instincts on the court and he can score. He's going to play and we're going to see where he fits in. We know he fits in the future."

For the present, it'll be fun watching this talent begin its evolution toward becoming a player.