There are two places on this earth where Lance Stephenson can succeed: Indianapolis and Memphis. The veteran guard, recently dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies via the Los Angeles Clippers is an enigma.
Often known more for his antics, such as blowing into LeBron James’s ear, rather than his play on the court, Stephenson is on his third team in two years following a successful borderline All-Star season for the Indiana Pacers in 2014.
Unlike his unsuccessful stints in Charlotte and Los Angeles, however, the Memphis Grizzlies have a culture that fits Lance Stephenson’s unconventional on-court persona. Rather than try to contain Stephenson’s erratic personality, the Grizzlies will embrace it. After all, this team also employs personalities like Tony Allen, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Zach Randolph, and other misfits that found a successful home in Grind City.
Stephenson is an exceptional slashing guard that can play the point guard position in stints. He excels at driving to the basket, and can make spot-up threes on occasion, although he is far from a specialist. Stephenson also has above average rebounding and passing skills for his position. A comparable player is Rodney Stuckey.
His success in Indiana resulted from an offense that allowed Lance to use his abilities to “be Lance.” That means they allowed him to run around, snatch rebounds, and generally be a pest to opponents on both the offensive and defensive ends. Speaking of defense, Lance is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. Just don’t expect him to make an All-Defensive team.
In order to be successful, Lance needs to either shoot right at the rim, or shoot from the three. Stephenson’s struggles in Charlotte stemmed from poor shot selection in a very controlled offense. Lance plays better in chaos. The Memphis Grizzlies define chaos.
In Memphis, the strange and erratic is embraced. “Grit and Grind” is more than a playstyle, it’s a lifestyle. Perhaps no team in the NBA has embraced an identity like the Grizzlies. The physical brooding presences on the Grizzlies roster is more than merely intimidating for opposing teams; it is outright terrifying. In fact, with the acquisitions of both Stephenson and Andersen, the Grizzlies road to the Finals may rely on making opposing teams too scared to leave the locker room. One doesn’t leave Memphis without a few new bruises.
Lance Stephenson may frustrate fans at times. The feeling Stephenson may give the Memphis faithful are similar to that of Jeff Green, the player that was dealt for Stephenson. Stephenson can be inconsistent, but he will always give 100 percent.
That’s what Memphis Grizzlies basketball is all about. It is a very ugly brand of basketball, but that’s the way they like it. Rather than run an offense that resembles an artist painting a picture, it resembles closer to a monster truck crushing a long line of rusty junkyard cars. Lance Stephenson is a player that fits that description. It’s time to unleash Born Ready. Let Lance be Lance, and even if the Grizzlies do not win, it will be one entertaining ride.