This season, Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson made a huge leap from scrappy role player to an NBA's Most Improved Player candidate. He averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the regular season and has put up similar numbers in the playoffs (13.5 points, 7.4 rebounds).
According to 82games.com, opponents have shot 46.1 percent against Stephenson this season.
Those are the positives. Here are the negatives.
Stephenson has gotten into altercations with teammates on two different occasions. First, he and point guard George Hill exchanged pleasantries during a "verbal confrontation" back in March, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
A month later, Stephenson and Evan Turner got into a fight during a Pacers practice, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. These incidents are sure to affect Stephenson's bottom line when he hits the open market this summer.
"Stephenson is a guy who has talent, but if you have a young team and you’re building up a culture, you have to consider that before you pursue a guy who might affect your locker room negatively," one GM told Sporting News' Sean Deveney. "You have to do your due diligence."
A team will likely look past Stephenson's recent transgressions and pay him handsomely. After all, he's only 23 years old and there aren't too many guards that play both ends of the court or rebound like Stephenson does.
While the potential reward is there, the risk is in the financial terms. A deal in the $6-8 million a year range makes sense for a guy that has put together one noteworthy year in four seasons. When you start talking double digits annually, you're talking about a huge gamble for someone who could be a troublemaker.
Stephenson has the talent to be a rising star, but his potential will always be contingent on what's going on between his ears. A team is bound to roll the dice, but how big of a disappointment Stephenson turns out to be will depend on the kind of money he inevitably gets.
With the Pacers already paying big money to Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West, Stephenson's best chances at sticking around will be based on his willingness to take a discount.
If it's the money he craves, the Detroit Pistons have the cap space and could use an upgrade at shooting guard. Plus, the team has a history of taking chances on players with a troubled past (Rasheed Wallace, Josh Smith, to name a couple).