Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  39 responses

Lance Stephenson’s Defensive Shortcomings

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

With a nickname like “Born Ready”, expectations are always high. So far for Lance Stephenson, he has not seemed ready for NBA basketball, and the biggest issues are on the defensive end of the floor.

According to Stephenson’s head coach, Jim O’Brien, the 6-5, 210-pounder is having a tough time guarding people, to the point where he’d be glued to the bench should the Pacers have a game to play.

The Indy Star

Stephenson, a second-round draft pick, has been a defensive liability during the first part of training camp. “If we were playing a game tonight, he wouldn’t get a minute,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. Stephenson’s offensive skill allowed him to play in high school and college despite defensive shortcomings. That’s not the case anymore. His mistakes are broken down, either on the spot in practice by the coaching staff or the next morning during a video session.

“In college, I was definitely able to take shortcuts and try to get over,” Stephenson said. “In the NBA, you can’t get over. I have to get better at it.” Stephenson’s biggest problem has been off-the-ball defense.

It’s not all bad news for Stephenson and the Pacers, however. Despite well-documented concerns about his attitude, the coaching staff in Indy says Lance has been using the criticism of his defense to get better, and hasn’t caused any headaches.

Considering all of the drama that surrounded his professional debut in Indiana, Lance Stephenson can ill afford to fall behind any further.

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  • JuicyM

    I was never sold on this kid, don’t care how many points he scored in high school, I’d be he’s outta the league and in Romania within 2 years max. BOOK IT!

  • Roy

    he will last more than two years
    and he will develop into a player better than anyone predicts
    hes got potential

  • JTaylor21

    His excuse is that “I’m big boned aka husky”.

  • JoeMaMa

    He may have defensive faults, but have you seen his Offensive game?? Driving the lane, great crossovers, and if you talk trash he’ll throw you down stairs.

  • jarrett

    NOT deserving of a SLAM cover….

  • ClydeSays

    Well, he’s still very young. Stephenson wouldn’t be the first guy to struggle with D, especially under O’Brien who stresses Defense. It might take a season or 2 for him to figure it out. 205 for a 6’5″ PG seems heavy. He’ll need to study on D and slim down.

    To be fair, some guys survive in the NBA NEVER learning D. But yeah, all around players tend to stick around IF they’re in the right system with the right coach. Stephenson + O’Brien might be a bad matchup for both.

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    I think its good that he himself admits his weakness. I don’t like him but give the kid a break, idiots.

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    He’s an offensive minded NYC guard of course his offense is years ahead of his defense. What kid were you scouting O’Brien?

  • Lucas

    A native New Yorker with amazing offensive ability and incredible defensive shortcomings? Get outta here!

  • http://ohlaglambam.blogspot.com Zabba

    This guy will lead the league in ppg during the 4th year. The D-League, that is, hahah/.

  • T-Money

    Let’s be honest here: below average athleticism, erratic jumper, tunnel vision, no defense. yikes. yeah he can handle the rock but he’s also turnover prone. another example of a ny guy being hyped because he’s from ny.

  • Miller’s TINY #32

    i wasn’t to impressed with him in louisville, he should’ve stayed another year to develop his game. Hope he gets his act together in the next year or so

  • IndyB

    He has been matched up mostly against point guards to this point in camp. I think his athleticism is fine for the shooting guard spot but lacking for chasing down 1′s. He should be fine when they figure out that he isnt a point guard.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    He can play. Offensively he’s there, one of the best *offensively* in the draft this year. You’ll see. I refuse to compliment him any further…

  • T-Money

    Teddy: he has flair, I’ll give him that. But the production is not there. % in college: 44-22-66. That’s hot garbage.

  • slick ric

    I was impressed with him offensively, he’s very crafty.

  • hoodsnake

    Cosign JuicyM

  • http://theurbangriot.com The Nupe

    The fact that he is aware and ‘owns’ his defensive issues is going to help him. O’brien is use to teaching younger ‘kids’ defense from his college coaching days, so that should help as well. However, kids on a short leash, he already has a couple of what I’ll call ‘incidents’ with women that really hurt his image and he can hardly afford to become more of a distraction. I’m not a fan of the kid but I do hope he straightens up. Both as a man and as a basketball player.

  • Pugz

    I like Lance, I think if he continues to work hard, he will be one of the top guards in the league in about 5 years.

  • VisionofGreatness

    I watched him play in college, didn’t do anything that wowed me. Now he can’t play defense? He better straighten up or he will be out of the league in a few years and back in New York playing streetball.

  • http://dsfjklf.com Jukai

    Strange. He seemed pretty defensive when he threw his girlfriend down a flight of stairs for making fun of him.
    What? I’ve won the SLAM 20,000th predicable post award? Oh my god, thank you! Thank you all so much!!!!

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Lol @ Jukai.

  • http://slamonline.com Art

    This is another example of the NY hype….just b/c you make it in NY dont mean you goin make it anywhere…soooo many NY bust..and thats partially SLAM’s fault for always hyping these NY kids at 12 and 15….he’s weak…and killing high schoolers where he’s probably the same height as the opposing teams center isnt very impressive…no D, average passer, streaky long ball and inconsistent mid range, not explosive at all, and tight handle…sounds more like a MVP or the YMCA then a NBA player…im tired of hearing about this kid…

  • The Philosopher

    Hang in there, Lance.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    SLAM is still on this kid, huh? Disappointing college career, second round pick, heaps of legal trouble…and now we’re seeing accusations of him not actually being that good. I’m sure there are tons of stories like this in the NBA right now, and we’re still on Lance Stephenson? This is like the same headline as “Eddy Curry Eats Another Donut”. Really, why do we still care?



  • T-Money

    Eric Barkley, Omar Cook, God ShammgodJulius Hodge, Bassy Telfair, Lance Stephenson, Jamaal Tinsley, Kenny Satterfield, Speedy Claxton = Unathletic NYC guards with crazy hype and handles that can’t shoot for ish.

  • T-Money

    Actually, Speedy shouldn’t be on that list.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    Wow the hate for NY is incredible. All NY guards don’t play the same. Sure you get a little more shine being from NY. Its just like how tourist flock here even though there are tons more nicer places to visit in the US. He was hyped because he was a great HS basketball player in one of the tougher PSALs in the country. There are kids all over the country that are hyped up when they are younger and don’t amount to NBA superstars. He may be another name to add to that list, or maybe he’ll get his ish together and become a solid player. But don’t make it like the only reason he got drafted is because he’s from NY.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Maybeee cauuse… They’re not from NY. Envy is cool, I understand.

  • T-Money

    dfrance21: see that’s exactly what i’m questioning. how tough is NY’s PSAL? And more importantly, how meaning a regular in-state season is anyways? We put so much hype into this championship with the finals played at the garden and I’m not sure it’s relevant. The AAU circuit is where you can see who’s on top.

  • T-Money

    Spaceship Jay: Envious of what exactly? I’m not even from the U.S. What have I said that’s not factual?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    tinsley developed a decent jumper.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Yea tinsley put it together, speedy too. Lance is just a second round rookie who hasnt played yet, lets wait a couple years before we say hes nothing.

  • hammer

    Yea there’s always a lot of NY hate but we’re used to it. Lance needs time to develop. And FYI, what ‘nicer parts’ of the country? Farmland and muggy weather don’t count as “nicer”

  • Sparty’s Law

    He should have stayed in school and stayed in the gym instead of pushing girls down stairs.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Another over-hyped pg outta Lincoln H.S. Telfair has what like 3 Slam covers now, but guys like “insert anyone not named Lebron, Dwight, Wade, Kobe, Kevin- here” cant land one?

  • Ronald

    How is 6’5″ 205 pounds heavy? That’s quiet a good weight for a guy who is 6’5.

  • Greg

    He should have stayed in college! If he stayed 3 or 4 years in college he could have been a high first round pick but he got greedy and left early. He won’t get many minutes this year. If you can’t guard anyone, it doesn’t matter how many points you score.