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Indiana's Best Shot Against Miami: Lance Stephenson

As a lawyer, I learned a long time ago that there are four kinds of facts. The first kind is a fact that is merely supported by some evidence. The second kind is a fact that is unchangeable - an absolute truth. The third kind of fact is simply a good fact (good for your case) with the last kind of fact being a bad fact (bad for your case). With that axiom in mind, I question the facts concerning Lance Stephenson.

It is an absolute truth that Lance Stephenson was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 40th overall pick (tenth pick of the second round) in the 2010 NBA draft. It is a fact supported by evidence that the kid was a New York high school legend. It was a bad fact (and supported by evidence) that Stephenson had a less than admirable history. Perhaps this was why he was available when it came time for the Pacers to make their second selection.

(On a somewhat related note and in hindsight, numerous players selected in front of Stephenson in the draft should not have been. You can pick and choose who has been better by looking at the full list: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Wesley Johnson, DeMarcus Cousins, Ekpe Udoh, Greg Monroe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis, Patrick Patterson, Larry Sanders, Luke Babbitt, Kévin Séraphin, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley, James Anderson, Craig Brackins, Elliot Williams, Trevor Booker, Damion James, Dominique Jones, Quincy Pondexter, Jordan Crawford, Greivis Vásquez, Daniel Orton, Lazar Hayward, Tibor Pleiß, Dexter Pittman, Hassan Whiteside, Armon Johnson, Nemanja Bjelica, Terrico White,Darington Hobson, Andy Rautins, and Landry Fields.

The only player selected before Stephenson in the second round that is still active in the NBA is Landry Fields. Tibor Pleiß, Dexter Pittman, Hassan Whiteside, Armon Johnson, Nemanja Bjelica, Terrico White,Darington Hobson, and Andy Rautins are all either in the D-League, Canada, overseas, or no longer in organized basketball at any level. Was this just bad decision making by GMs? Would they do it differently today? If another team had picked Stephenson, would he have similar success as he has with the Pacers?

This last question is the most intriguing. It is just my opinion but I think the answer is a most likely "No." Stephenson needed Larry Bird, David West, Danny Granger and the rest of the Indiana Pacers as much as the Pacers need him right now. Stephenson needed a professional yet supporting environment to teach him how to be a responsible adult and work with others. The Pacers need his aggressiveness and fearlessness to start Pacer runs and/or to thwart opponent runs.)

If Lance Stephenson picks up where he left off in the conference semi-finals against New York and continues playing strong against Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers have a significant chance of moving past the Heat "as the next team in the Pacers' way" toward a championship.

To do this, Lance Stephenson will have to shine. He doesn't have to put up 25 points a night, but he will need to take advantage of Wade's knee and get to the basket.

Unfortunately, I am not fully convinced that Lance Stephenson has matured enough or is otherwise ready for the spotlight. But, if the Pacers beat the Heat in four out of seven games, it will be an absolute truth that Lance Stephenson played a major role in making it happen.

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