Sure Lance Stephenson could be a starter for the Pacers this season. But as they begin preseason camp on Tuesday, Nate McMillan and the front office feel Stephenson’s versatility will bring more value as a sixth man off the bench where he can provide a spark depending on what is needed on a given night.
“I love him at that position (sixth man),” Kevin Pritchard said when asked about Lance’s role on the team. KP then went on to draw a bold comparison for the impact he hopes Lance can provide.
“What it really reminds me of - Ginobili a long time ago,” Pritchard said. “Because what happens is, you can't get everybody the opportunity to score and make plays in the first five minutes, with the first five players. When you come off the bench and you have somebody that can make plays, I mean, Lance is a willing passer we gotta put shooters out there with him, but he's a willing passer and I like that role for him.”
Now if Lance can resemble Manu Ginobili’s impact off the bench for the Spurs in any way, the Pacers will really have something. Lance can certainly make plays and coming off the bench with the ability to run alongside Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo or any other wing and guard combos to create plays and provide that trademark energy.
“When you're the sixth man, you already know what you're expecting when you get on that floor,” Stephenson said. “I came in playing sixth man, so I think I embrace it well and can't wait.”
Stephenson has spent his NBA career trying to prove people wrong with mixed results at different times which has him back in Indy looking to solidify his career with a strong role on the roster. As he looks around, Lance is not the only one with something to prove as most league observers dismiss the Pacers’ talent heading into the season.
“Everyone is doubting us now because we lost Paul, but I feel like we have a group of guys that want to win and are very hungry,” Stephenson said. “They have a lot to prove, not just me, the whole team has a lot to prove and we're going to show 'em.”