There was one moment in today’s victory for the Indiana Pacers that would sum up just how much everyone on the team believes in Lance Stephenson AND is willing to put up with the good, bad, and ugly. Stephenson scored a point that put the Pacers in the prime position to get a win, and was full of energy. He’s hopping down the sidelines and gets a huge high five from Frank Vogel, who has one of the biggest smiles that I’ve seen lately from him. Now for all my fellow readers you know how much stock I put into those things BEYOND the stats, and to me, that exchange between Vogel and Stephenson said it all.
I can still recall Larry Bird having so much faith in this guy, and even stating that he could have the most potential of anyone he’s seen. Just think about who Bird has seen in his day. I won’t go about naming the names, but right now, we do have a guy named Paul George on our team, who’s full of potential and showcasing, but Stephenson can prove himself in his own way. That’s definitely the best way to put it, the Stephenson way.
We all know the antics he can provide in a game beyond the court, but once he’s out there, you know you’re getting a ball of energy. Today’s game he looked to have a bit of extra pep in his step as he was grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists, and scoring points. The final stat line for Stephenson today reads 17 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. A fifth triple double on the year, and a new Pacers’ franchise record. I believe he’s tied with Joakim Noah for most all year, and I believe both guys will be right there in the Most Improved Player award when it’s all said and done.
Stephenson has earned that award team wise when he look at how far he’s come. A guy that was at first known as the one who flashed the choke sign at Lebron James to now a guy that will want to step up and defend Lebron James. A guy that can definitely give you the “no, no, no, yes” mode of thinking when he’s dribbling, dribbling, dribbling, breaking away for a layup. A guy that will throw a pass even before the other guy knows it’s coming. A guy that will steal a rebound from his own teammates.
But guess what? He’s like Tyler Hansbrough in a way, where he’ll get under your skin if you’re playing against him, but you’ll want him on your team because you know you’re getting the effort. That’s why he’s going to get paid from some team. Now personally, I want him to stay here with the Pacers because of the strides he’s made, and I would like to keep this core group another year. I think the Pacers are the best fit for him as well, but that’s definitely a bias on my end. I’m allowed to do that when I’ve really believed in the guy, and I always like to see those guys stick around here.