Clippers: 5 reasons Lance Stephenson should not be traded

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Oct 29, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Lance Stephenson (1) blocks a shot by Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia (27) in the first quarter of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike certain others, he can play defense

As has been the case with most of the Clippers this season, their sense or urgency overall and intensity on defense hasn’t been very apparent. At least not for a team looking to be a top championship contender.

Stephenson doesn’t totally get a pass in this aspect, as his awareness and intensity on defense got lost at times during the poor spells of play the Clippers had until their recent wins. However, he was bought in to be their top perimeter defender for taller wing players, and he’s far better defensively than the other guard who may be traded, Jamal Crawford.

This season, Stephenson has once again been hassling players on the perimeter by forcing them to shoot seven percent lower than normal from three point range. Crawford, on the other hand, allows opponents to shoot 4.8 percent higher than normal from deep.

Even when edging closer to the basket from 16 feet out, Lance still holds them 6.8 percent below their average shooting mark. Stopping drives has been more of an issue for him, as within six feet his opponent’s efficiency shoots up to 10.6 percent above normal (per Player Tracking). Interior issues aside, though, at least he’s defending the perimeter well.

Ultimately, when it comes down to who should be traded if a deal is going to happen, is Stephenson any worse than Crawford?

He isn’t by any stretch of the imagination, and that’s why it makes no sense to try and move Stephenson instead of Crawford when the Clippers’ defense is the weakest aspect of their performance.

They rank 18th in defensive efficiency, and if Stephenson goes, the Clippers are going to need a good replacement to avoid the problem of weak defenders Crawford and Pierce receiving even more minutes. Although, as we know so well with Doc, he’s going to trust “his guys” rather than another new signing. And this is what leads on to another problem of who the Clippers could get in return for Lance, which we’ll get onto shortly.

Next: He plays with energy