Clippers 2015-16 Player Preview: Lance Stephenson


Feb 10, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson (1) in a time out during the first half of the game against the Detroit Pistons at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

2014-15 Statistics

8.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 37.6 FG percentage, 17.1 3PT percentage, 8.8 PER.

Last Season

There’s no way of denying that 2014-15 was by far the worst year of Lance Stephenson’s career so far. After being a borderline All-Star and league leader in triple doubles during the 2013-14 season with the Indiana Pacers, his talent almost fell off the map with the Charlotte Hornets. He was a fundamental part of the Pacers team that challenged LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the Eastern conference finals in 2014, using his flare to create offense and his toughness to guard The King himself on defense.

Then, after earning himself a $9 million contract with the Hornets, he joined a situation where nothing seemed to go right. After recording a league best five triple doubles in 2013-14, Stephenson’s averages of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from three point range, fell dramatically to the far less impressive stat line shown above.

Besides the startling fact that he attempted 105 threes and made just 18, though, his player efficiency rating also plummeted from 14.7 in his final year with the Pacers to 8.8 last season, which is almost half the league average of 15.

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He arrived in Charlotte as a player looking to take the next step in his walk to stardom, yet as the year progressed that grew further and further from being a reality.

Stephenson started his Hornets career with a near triple double performance after tallying 7 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Charlotte even won. A promising debut, right? Almost. However, his 3-of-12 shooting was a sign of things to come, as he went on to record the most inefficient year of his career.

In addition to the fact his situation in Charlotte never suited him, given the high expectation surrounding him and his discomfort with his role, a lot of Stephenson’s shooting troubles came from his poor shot selection and attempt to do too much. Which is exactly what he’s been showing again in recent weeks by shooting 23.1 percent in the Clippers’ preseason.

Last season, his pull-up shooting revealed his lacking accuracy when trying to do too much to create shots off the dribble. On pull-up shots, Stephenson shot 33.9 percent and made just 31.8 percent of his shots from further than 16 feet out (per So, seeing as he often looked to create too often and he took 26.9 percent of his entire field goal attempts from 16 feet, it’s safe to say that poor shot selection quickly undid his rise to stardom.

It’s just baffling at times that some NBA players can never end their love for the most inefficient shot in the game: long twos. If Stephenson wants to be more effective with the Clippers, he must improve his decision making on offense.

Mar 8, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson (1) reacts to a basket in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Charlotte won 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This Summer

As the lacking success of Stephenson with the Hornets was blatantly obvious, a change of scenery was more than expected; it was encouraged by anyone who thought he could return to the form he had with the Pacers.

Luckily for Lance, he got his escape via Doc Rivers and the Clippers.

Before the Golden State Warriors even had a chance to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Stephenson was sent off to Los Angeles.

In exchange for the 25 year old shooting guard, the Clippers traded away Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. And when considering the poor season Hawes had, and the intention to mix things up after another second round exit, the quick decision to make something happen by acquiring Stephenson made sense for Doc Rivers and his rebuilding bench.

2014-15 Highlights

It may have been his worst season, but 2014-15 wasn’t without highlights for Stephenson. However, a lot of those highlight moments came early on. He never had a double digit rebounding performance after November 12, despite recording five in the first month of the season. Plus, in 61 games, he only surpassed 10 assists once with a 13 dime performance against the Denver Nuggets on January 31.

If we put those matters aside, though, he still had some nights to remember.

The Clippers will certainly be hoping he can replicate many dunks like this one:

2015-16 Clippers Season Preview

It’s time for Stephenson to put the woes of his time in Charlotte behind him. From the terrible shooting to the Hornets’ 33 wins, it’s time to move on. When it comes to fitting in with the Clippers, though, it’s adjusting to a new role among other ball dominant players that’s the issue at the forefront of his transition. As we’ve seen from his play in preseason, it’s been an issue from his first quarter with the team.

During the Clippers’ preseason so far, Stephenson is shooting 23.1 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from three point range, after making just 1-of-7 attempts from deep. They’ve lost three straight games after winning their first against the Nuggets, and it’s almost exclusively down to the bench’s poor performance thus far.

As those who know the Clippers have iterated many times, it could only be expected that the new second unit would struggle at first. With so many new faces, there’s no way to avoid a shaky adjustment period. However, the three straight losses and a crushing 113-71 defeat against the Hornets doesn’t offer much promise.

Without trying to bring up too many worrying numbers, though, the bench have still shot 33.3 percent from the floor, 22.4 percent from three and average 10.6 turnovers per game in their brief time together so far. We can’t just pretend these numbers don’t at least indicate that the Clippers’ bench could be in for a rough start come November.

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Stephenson has potential to be great this season. But a lot of that potential comes down to his relationship with fellow shooting guard Jamal Crawford. Together, they have the handles, streaky shooting and versatility to create instant offense. Even with those combined skills, though, it doesn’t necessarily translate to success when they’re on the court together. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. If both of them try and control the ball whenever they’re on the floor and aren’t able to run an organized offense instead of just creating their own shots, the Clippers’ bench could turn to chaos.

That’s the worst case scenario. If they can figure out how to play together, though, the driving ability and playmaking of Stephenson, next to the instant offense of Crawford could form a duo hard to stop.

Ultimately, their possible success is yet to be seen. Stephenson can’t be any worse than he was with the Hornets, but he’s still a long way from how exciting he was with the Pacers. The Clippers just need to try and unlock his triple double, playmaking nature to give them a chance at going past the second round.

Let’s wait and see if that happens.

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