I don’t know why Lance didn’t want to accept the Pacers offer but I know his departure will hurt Indiana. Lance had all his antics during the playoffs but he was the heart of that team. David West was the leader but Lance was the heart. He was the wildcard; we never knew what he would do on any given night.
Maybe Lance felt some type of way when Paul George didn’t really back him up after the playoffs. Paul George and Roy Hibbert were the All-Stars for the Pacers but Lance was right there. He played great in the first half of the season. He was the 3rd leading scorer but he led them in rebounds and assist per game.
The Pacers struggled scoring the ball. They were hard to watch at times. Stephenson was the guy to get things started on the break; he would push the ball in transition to create things for a slow Pacers team. He was also the guy that would initiate the offense for the 2nd unit. They could not afford to lose Lance even though they added CJ Miles and Rodney Stuckey.
Miles is a decent shooter and gives the Pacers some much needed scoring but he’s not a real playmaker. Stuckey can get to the basket but he’s a terrible shooter. Neither guy can bring it on the defensive end like Lance. I’m not sure which guy starts in place of Stephenson but both are lacking attributes that Stephenson brought to the table.
Paul George will have a lot more work to do now that Lance is gone. Overall George is the better player but Stephenson is a better player. Lance makes things happen and gets his teammates involved. Paul George has to be a better playmaker and leader if this team wants to make another deep run in the playoffs. Lance took a lot of pressure off of George, so now we get to see if PG is ready to take that next step to becoming a superstar.
Lance is only 23 years old and as he gets more comfortable he will get better. He’s has been involved in two Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat so his experience will help the Hornets; a team that also lost to the Heat in the playoffs. He’s a fiery competitor that gives the Hornets an identity. He plays on both ends and can guard small forwards. He tries to be too flashy at times and he pays for it but he can make plays for this Hornets team.
Lance should feel right at home with the Hornets. They are similar to the Pacers; a very good defensive team that has trouble scoring the ball. Lance will create all types of opportunities for Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and newly acquired shooter PJ Hairston. He takes pressure off of Kemba Walker and he can run with either Gerald Henderson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He will fit better next to Kidd-Gilchrist because he is a better playmaker and shooter than Henderson.
The deal is perfect because it’s only for two years and a team option for the 3rd year. Al Jefferson is the veteran in the locker room, Kemba is a fellow New Yorker and so there should be no problems in the locker room. Lance should fit right in with Charlotte’s system because he can do a little bit of everything to help them. He has a chance to have a break-out season and become an All-Star in this league.