Lance Stephenson has been gearing up for the 2017-18 season ever since the Indiana Pacers got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. He has put in a lot of work in the weight room and on the basketball court for countless hours at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Stephenson had remained focused on shedding weight to be in much better shape than he was when he signed with the Indiana Pacers to finish out the season. Earlier in the off-season, he had already trimmed down to 215 pounds. He is looking like a more explosive athlete and being physically prepared should help with durability.
Without an established superstar on the roster, Stephenson has a firm grasp of the opportunity that he and his team is facing next season (via Pacers.com).
“I feel like this is the hardest I’ve been working since I’ve been in the league. I feel like this is a big opportunity for us as a team and we gotta take full advantage of it.”
“I feel like the opportunity that everyone has right now is big. But we’re going to have to work hard and find the go-to guy, and find the leader of the team and (we) just gotta win.”
By improving his conditioning, he will be able to display a great deal of positional versatility. An additional motivation behind his weight loss was to be able to spend more time at the point guard position.
The Indiana Pacers are going to need Lance Stephenson to play shooting guard minutes primarily. However, with Victor Oladipo being viewed as having All-Star potential, Stephenson will need to earn minutes at other positions to end up with a lot of playing time.
“Born Ready” won’t be handed a significant role with the Indiana Pacers next season. He is going to have to earn his time at other positions considering how Darren Collison and Cory Joseph are at point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic and Glenn Robinson III are at small forward.
Stephenson will look to get back to his near All-Star production that he had during the 2013-14 season. During that year, he produced averages of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. If he earns substantial minutes, then he will have a sufficient opportunity to get back to that level as a player again.
What made Lance Stephenson such a vital part of those Pacers teams that reached consecutive Eastern Conference Finals in 2012-14 was his willingness to do whatever it took to win, and that spirit hasn’t changed (via Pacers.com).
“I’m trying to do it all man. Whatever it takes to win, I’m going to do my best to do it.”
The versatile impact that Lance Stephenson brought to the Pacers during the 2013-14 season should not go unappreciated. Also, if he receives a sufficient role regarding minutes and production, there is no reason why he can’t build off of what he did that season.
The only players to average at least 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.6 rebounds this season were Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, and Russell Westbrook. That is certainly an impressive group of players.
To put Lance Stephenson’s incredible rebounding impact into perspective, he led all guards with an average of 7.2 rebounds per game in 2013-14. For reference, Myles Turner led the Pacers in rebounding in 2016-17 with an average of 7.3 rebounds per game.
There is no denying Stephenson’s ability to put together a dynamic performance considering that he led the league with five total triple doubles in 2013-14. Not that personal accolades are all that matter, but he may need to put the team on his back in some games for the Pacers to come out with a win.
The intriguing part of this whole upcoming season for Stephenson is that he could end up earning the type of role that he’s never had in the NBA. He has never been a high usage player that has been looked to as a go-to guy. Without a superstar on the team, now is Lance Stephenson’s best chance of working up to that level.