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.