Lance Stephenson is Born Ready

August 12, 2010

by Jack Maidment

Last year this blog stated in no uncertain terms that Brandon Jennings would rock the NBA. And he did. Better than any rookie not named Tyreke.

For that reason, and because you can build a better future by learning from the past, it is time to pick out this coming season’s Draft sleeper.

If Brandon Jennings was looked off last year, dropping towards the bottom of the lottery, this year’s man is even more of a dark horse.

Lance Stephenson, the 40th overall pick of the Indiana Pacers, is a player who some how slipped to the point of near anonymity despite a career to this point heavily laden with records and accolades.

There is a reason why the Coney Island, Brooklyn, native was given the nickname Born Ready at Rucker Park: he has been playing at a professional level since he was 15, bullying people with his 6-5 bruiser of a body.

His style of play is almost a mirror image of a certain ROY from the Sacramento Kings, perhaps with a little less polish.

But talent is not the question here.

On talent alone Stephenson would be a top ten rookie, maybe even top five, but because of how easy the game was for him until he went to college his game is raw and at times frightening: Especially for a coach contemplating point guard minutes.

And herein lays the gamble. Given minutes and a slice of patience Lance Stephenson will be a very, very good NBA player, maybe even great. Maybe even a ROY contender.

The Pacers’ trade for Darren Collison means no start for the Cincinnati product, at least at the point, but with a looming buyout of TJ Ford there should certainly be minutes for Stephenson somewhere in the backcourt.

Born Ready is ready for the next step.


The Time Is Now

August 11, 2010

by Jack Maidment

The year of the veteran or the year of the end?

This past off season has seen a passing of the torch of sorts with one generation’s past superstars begrudgingly and without acknowledgement stepping aside to make way for the next.

This means two things. The old guard are gone. Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson are the symbols and their end will in all likelihood be without the fanfare that they still hear in their heads.

Age has caught up with these players who used to sit atop the very pinnacle of basketball excellence. In all three of their respective careers they were, at one point or another the best in the game.

For T-Mac that moment was all too fleeting, the odd game, the odd month. For Iverson and Shaq their shine was more durable, more enduring and they shone the brightest.

The very best.

But now, the dream has died, the fantasy has been lived and it is time to go.

Only one of the three has a job for next year and any chance to start is down to injury and injury only. Would Boston have gambled on O’Neal or for that matter O’Neals had Kendrick Perkins not gone down with a knee injury

As for Iverson and McGrady? The bottom line is that no one wants them. And that has got to be tough. Another season might happen for both, more likely for McGrady than Iverson, but any dreams of a contract without some sort of release clause should things turn pear shaped is pure fantasy.

The second thing is that the time is now for LeBron, Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and all those guys drafted between 2003 and 2008.

The NBA is now theirs. This is their peak, their history. They are now The Generation.

The reality is they now have 5-7 years of gold to make their bid: for wins, for titles, for legacy, for the Hall.

It is time for the changing of the guard.