Lance Stephenson is an enigma. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that he has the best shot of any Clipper on the roster to develop into the two-way starting SF that the team will need in the playoffs, and he went through a stretch where I slowly, more and more, believed that he could be that guy. But a recent late-game temper tantrum over not getting the ball that led to lazy defense, and erratic play since, has cooled the hype. Lance is averaging 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 turnovers. He's shot 49.4% from the field and 40.4% from deep (on only 47 attempts), playing 15.8 minutes per game in 43 games. Let's see how our writers grade him:
Davey Bales: C+. I've been a big-time Lance supporter and apologist in his first season with the Clippers, but I also recognize his shortcomings. His energetic play, which can at times be an asset, often verges on out-of-control and his defense has been surprisingly poor given the reputation he garnered in his time in Indiana. He too frequently appears disengaged and gets beat off the dribble or gets caught snoozing on backdoor cuts. When he's on, he's a triple-double threat, but when he's not, he's a turnover machine and a lackluster defender. That said, if he's not moved by the deadline for another wing, he's going to need to become a more heavily featured part of this team, whether Doc likes it or not. He's got too much talent to waste away on the bench - even if he can be maddeningly inconsistent.
Niels Pineda: Note home for a Parent-Teacher conference. I've been a huge Lance supporter from Day 1. I was livid when he was getting strings of DNPs, and I was the first to be cheering for him the second he got off the bench. I think Lance has absolutely shown great flashes of play in his limited opportunities. His defense (*when engaged) has been above average, his shot has been surprisingly good, and his ability to make plays and push the tempo is definitely a sight to see. On top of that, his versatility playing from 1-4 is also a great sign. But with all of that being said, his emotions, body language, and overall actions have been so volatile that I understand Doc's reluctance to play him more. He's that troubled kid who clearly has the potential, but his attitude is a problem. For that, I would give him a note home for a parent teacher conference.
Lucas Hann: C. I understand Niels' decision to shy away from a grade--it's tough to grade someone who's been anywhere from A to F, sometimes on a play-to-play basis. So while his overall average quality of play has probably been higher than a C, he loses points for inconsistency and attitude. I think the Clippers should move Lance at the deadline if they get a deal for a more stable wing player who can shoot and defend at above-average levels. If they can't get that deal, then I hope Doc can keep working with Lance to find ways for him to be consistently successful.