First-Half Lance: The Good, the Bad, and the Good Ugly
As the Pacers struggled in the opening half Wednesday night (trailing by as many as 11 to the lowly Jazz), every single version of Lance Stephenson came out to play.
Lance does several things well on this play. First, he moves from the wing across the high screen slowly to set up his defender. While it may seem lazy, one of the best ways to set up a defender is to make him think you aren’t really part of the play. As Alec Burks fights across the screen, Lance appears to just “go through the motions” in the middle of a set play. All of the sudden, Lance explodes toward the basket. Had Hibbert seen the play as it developed, he would have hit Stephenson for an easy layup. As it was, Roy missed the initial opening, Burks recovered reasonably enough, and Hibbert rightly decided to hold onto the ball. Stephenson, however, didn’t panic. Rather than pout that he didn’t get the rock, he saw the opening on the floor and doubled back to the left block. David West patiently waited for it and found Stephenson, matched up against a much weaker defender a mere six feet from the basket. From there, Stephenson does the rest. Also notice how Hibbert smartly gets into position on the weak side glass for an offensive rebound without cramping Lance’s spacing for a drop step right handed layup. The little things on a play like this are so important, and every Pacer did his job well.
(Please excuse all of the nonsense going on with my computer on this video)
In this clip, Lance compounds a mistake on a poorly run pick and roll by making a poor decision in transition defense. First, as the pick and roll with David West gets thwarted, Lance takes what I call the “Get the Assist at all costs” route that befuddles some point guards. The key on a pick and roll is to make the right read. Sometimes, the guard needs to drive all the way to the rim while other times, he should settle for the 20-footer. Good point guards like Chris Paul read it as it develops and are able to drive, shoot, pass, or hold the ball whenever the situation calls for it. Lance, at this point, was in “Lance Kidd” mode and you could tell. Not only does he not take the space to the middle of the floor around the right side of West’s screen, but he doubles back into a double team, appearing to hope to find West for the easy 20-footer that never materializes. Lance has been a great distributor at times this year, but he read this pick and roll atrociously. Then, he ball watches back in transition leaving TWO guys open around the perimeter, one of which would hit the open three. The Pacers will live with Lance’s mistakes, but they can’t have him exacerbating them like in years past.
The Good Ugly
Classic “No, no no NO NO NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!?!? ….. Sick. Sequence from Born Ready.
One Jordan palm, four crossovers, a spin move, and a fade away. What more could you ask for?
To sum up, I think Lance is a much better player when he “doesn’t overthink” the game. At this point, he is what he is. He’s an energy guy that often gets into trouble and commits some dumb turnovers. But he also adds a fearlessness that the Pacers need and makes things happen on both ends of the floor.
When he tries to overthink things and eliminate the bad mistakes, he ends up playing far too passively and doesn’t bring any of the good things to the table. Lance needs to be Lance, and not worry about “Good Lance” and “Bad Lance.”