The Indiana Pacers have gotten off to an incredibly hot 21-5 start. One of the main reasons for their early success has been the play of shooting guard Lance Stephenson. Stephenson worked his way into a starting role last season due to the injury concerns for Danny Granger, but wasn’t seen as a future star until towards the end of the regular season. So far this season, Stephenson has been making a name for himself around the NBA as a growing star.
Prior to Indiana’s 114-81 win over the Houston Rockets last night, Stephenson was averaging 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. Those numbers are among some of the best all-around stats of a shooting guard this season. The thing that sets Stephenson apart this season is his ability to do everything on the court. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t able to score the ball at a high clip, because he will rebound the basketball or create open looks for teammates.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of his game is his willingness to be a playmaker for others. Stephenson loves his assists just as much as he loves to score, and that is something a very valuable quality to have. He can get to the rim and score almost at will, but would rather work the ball around and get his teammates open looks despite that ability. The Pacers have been putting the basketball in Stephenson’s hands quite a bit this season asking him to make plays, and he has done just that.
Indiana is currently considered one of the favorites to win a championship this season, which would be their first as an NBA franchise. Lance Stephenson has to continue playing the type of basketball that he has early on this year if the Pacers are going to be able to defeat teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lance Stephenson is set to hit the free agent market this coming offseason and will likely get quite a bit of interest. The Pacers have made it clear that they would like to bring Stephenson back long-term, and Stephenson has also said that he would like to return to Indiana.
Overall, the Pacers need Stephenson to continue his stellar play to continue their hot start for the remainder of the season. There is no question that Lance Stephenson is one of the best up-and-coming shooting guards in the league and is making a name for himself in the “star” category. He still has some work to do with his consistency on offense, but with the work ethic and maturity he has shown this year, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for The Inscriber. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.