Lance Stephenson is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA and is primed for a big season for the Indiana Pacers in 2017-18. At this point in time, Indiana head coach Nate McMillan views Stephenson as his sixth man, but he believes that Stephenson will have a large role and could very well play starting minutes.
Just a few short years ago, Stephenson was at the top of his game and was an All-Star caliber player. He was the starting shooting guard on a Pacers’ team that was one of the best in the NBA. His decision to leave the Pacers in free agency was a major mistake, but he has a chance to make up for it now that he is back home.
Since his decision to leave Indiana, the Pacers’ fan base has always longed for him to come back. Last season, he finally did, and the fans went crazy.
Stephenson made an impact immediately after re-joining the Pacers. He brought immediate energy and leadership to a team that desperately needed both of those things. Unfortunately, the Pacers ended up getting swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
— Zesty NBA Pacers (@zesty_pacers) September 22, 2017
During the six regular season games that he played with the Pacers, Stephenson averaged just 7.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game. He took his game to a new level by averaging 16.0 points per game in the playoffs, to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
McMillan talked about what he sees in Lance and about his hope that Stephenson can establish himself as a lethal sixth man.
“I hope he can establish (that role),” McMillan said. “A sixth man is like a starter, and he can be a guy who can do a lot of things with that second group with his ability to handle the ball, score the ball. He’s an unselfish player.”
“I expect the maturity to show in his game. There have been several teams that gave up on him. He gets another opportunity to come back to Indiana where he’s had a lot of success. But he still has something to prove.”
Lance also talked about his upcoming role and what he expects from himself and his team this season.
— NBA babe (@NBA_babe) September 21, 2017
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m just happy to be on the floor. This is going to be a good season. This is a season where I can prove myself and…get back to that All-Star level. Whatever it takes to win.”
All of that being said, Stephenson is going to be an entertaining player to watch this season. He loves the Pacers’ franchise and has put in a lot of work this offseason.
At 27 years old, Stephenson is ready to flourish and perhaps find himself during the upcoming season for the Pacers.
What kind of season are you expecting from Lance Stephenson in 2017-18? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!