RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Lance StephensonPosted by nvr1983 on June 16th, 2010
Player Name: Lance Stephenson
Height/Weight: 6’6″, 227 lbs
NBA Position: SG/SF
Projected Draft Position: Late first/early second round
Overview: Coming into his freshman year Stephenson was one of the most talked about recruits in recent memory. Unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons as Stephenson was considered egotistical and there were even questions about his eligibility. As it turned out Stephenson was not the much-ballyhooed recruit that spent the season on the sidelines because of eligibility issues. Although he avoided the long arm of the NCAA, Stephenson had his own struggles on an inconsistent Bearcat team that mirrored their mercurial freshman star’s personality. Stephenson had the potential to develop into a top 10 pick. Normally we would be critical of such a decision (as college basketball fans), but Stephenson has stated that his primary reason for leaving school early was to support his 2 year-old daughter.
Will Translate to the NBA: Even though Stephenson is a borderline first round pick his game is NBA ready (his nickname is “Born Ready” after all) and if he works on keeping his ego in check, which reports out of workout sessions suggest, he should be a solid NBA player. With his power, quickness, and a solid mid-range jumper Stephenson should have a spot on a NBA roster for the next decade along as he continues to be the new-and-improved Lance Stephenson instead of the malcontent who nearly turned the basketball recruiting world upside down in the spring and summer of 2009.
Needs Work: For all of his athletic gifts Stephenson lack the explosiveness (both with his first step and his vertical) that scouts expect in high draft picks. While there isn’t much Stephenson can do about that other than try to shed a few pounds and go to Tim Glover during the off-season a few times. As for the more realistic targets for Stephenson, he could work on his long-range shooting (21.9% from 3 last year), defensive intensive intensity, going with the flow of the game instead of making up his mind before the play develops, and going with the simple play instead of the “And 1” play. So Stephenson has a lot to work on over the next few years. . .
Comparison Players: It’s sort of hard to come up with a good NBA comparison player for Stephenson. When you look at his game it sort of reminds you of Paul Pierce a little in the way he handles the ball, but that’s about where the similarities end. Stephenson lacks Pierce’s explosiveness (check out YouTube for Pierce dunking on some people) and long-range shooting ability. A better comparison might be to take you back a few years to Aaron McKie in that neither player had a great jump shot or could take over a game (at the NBA level), but both had skill sets that could make them valuable on the right team (not unlike McKie with the 2001 Sixers team that went to the NBA FInals).
Best Case Scenario: Under the best circumstances Stephenson develops into a guy who scores 15-20 PPG, pulls down 6-8 RPG, and dishes out 4-5 APG. He isn’t going to turn out to be the NBA superstar that many predicted for him early in his high school career, but Stephenson could develop into a solid NBA role player who can contribute in a variety of ways particularly if he extends the range on his mid-range jumper back out to the 3-point line. Ideally Stephenson would go to a team with some solid veteran leadership to keep him in check early in his career instead of one of the many dysfunctional teams in the league.
2013 Projection: Unfortunately I suspect that Stephenson will struggle his first few years, which could have been ameliorated by sticking around Cincinnati for another year (or two or three). Three years into his NBA career Stephenson will likely be a minimal role player averaging somewhere around 5 PPG, 3 RPG, and 2 APG unless he ends up in the right situation. . .
Best NBA Fit: Unfortunately (we’re using that word a lot in this profile) this year’s NBA Draft is notable for only 1 of the 6 best teams in the NBA occupying the last 6 spots in the first round, which is the area that Stephenson would hope to be drafted in. Given Stephenson’s “character” issues it would be best for him to end up on a solid team. Unfortunately (there it is again) only 2 teams in this position fit the bill (Orlando, which needs a 3-point shooter, not a slasher and Oklahoma City, who needs a big man on the inside not another slasher. As for the teams remaining towards the end of the first round the best fit would probably be if Stephenson fell all the way to #37 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Other than that, Stephenson is going to be counting on Memphis or New Jersey, which aren’t ideal destination, but could turn into solid teams in the next 5 years especially if Mikhail Prokhorov lives up to his words of making the Nets relevant in a few years.