NBA Draft Edition: Lance Stephenson
Should we really take into account that Stephenson has skills and intangibles that can
ONLY be brought into fruition under a span of 10 years?
Most choose to take swipes at his superego without really sitting back and acknowledging the lonely truth-he can handle the rock at 6-foot-6, break down the defense, dish it, and connect on an okay 15-footer hoping to become purer one day. I've realized that any quick conclusions of Cincinnati's dubious signing can't be taken seriously yet since he's a one-and-done college player.
A short while back, which just recently happened to be a co-inky-dink, I wrote a piece on Lance Stephenson with the idea he would stay in Cincy another season in order to promote and further act on his vast potential. Of course, that didn't happen, for he left with the intentions of getting drafted after a season in which he averaged 12 points, nearly 3 assists, and 5 rebounds.
Bigger question: How good can he be at the professional level?
We saw this before with Monta Ellis, a daring guard who stormed the league with much to prove. I have them in the same boat: you can expect high rewards under the assumption that their skills are catered to. Both have to be in the initiator role, have to be handled delicately by management, and generally have to be accepted every once in while as a "pain in the ass." I'm not saying that's what Stephenson will be. I just don't get people's natural inclinations to assume Stephenson doesn't get drafted. I can count at least five prospects that shouldn't, but will get drafted ahead of him:
1. Luke Harangody - I only see his career taking off under Jerry Sloan or in the ABA.
2. Devin Ebanks - Last time I saw Ebanks he was signaling for help on defense in the melting seconds of a crucial game at MSG, around the same time when Stephenson's draft stock was plummeting.
3. Avery Bradley - He'll fill a role in the league, but I still don't rank him above Stephenson purely from a skill-level. Worst case, he'll be Hinrich 2.0, whereas Stephenson does that with added size and length.
4. Charles Garcia - After watching a few of his sequences in college, I think he'll try for it professionally but probably won't get far. I still pause at times when it comes to his upside and potential. Furthermore, I'd much rather have Stephenson's toughness and been-there-all ready attitude.
5. So many left not sure who to choose (unbelievable!). You get the idea.
So once and for all, Lakers shouldn't allow him to pass at 58, Hawks should give it try at 53, and if the Bulls buy another pick, you know it.
Bulls: Stephenson could one day fill the small but ever important role every potential contender needs to fill-the last shot; Derrick Rose's jumper isn't there yet to consistently take the game's biggest shot. If given the opportunity, the Bulls have more to gain than lose by choosing Stephensen, especially when factoring in the salary cap and other financial considerations.
Like Rose, Stephenson loves taking his man one-on-one, feeding off the emotional energy of the "iso" game. Although it may be unlikely, Stephenson could also play minutes at PG, allowing Rose to wreak havoc off Noah's screens for gambled oops and high percentage "threads."
Bulls: I know what you're thinking-the aforementioned attitude problems of Stephenson.
Look at it this way: The Lakers are the favorite to win it all with a subdued Artest; Kobe is to salute for that. Here's where the Bulls consummate the opportunity to grab what could be, in addition Noah, our spiritual-guider on the court and in the locker room. What's there to lose with a second-round pick?
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