Apr 13, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Caron Butler (2) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Oklahoma City 102-97. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Lance Stephenson: Charlotte Hornets got a huge bargain

Think back to the last time you went to a store, and picked up an item that didn’t have a price tag. It could be a new shirt, a pair of sandals, or a set of shorts. These items were so enticing to purchase and so mysterious that you needed to find out the price.

The second you picked up one of those items, in your mind you determined that if the price was right, or even if you had to spend a little more, you would be willing to, because they were one of a kind.

Then, what made purchasing that item special was after you brought it up to the register, you were told that the item was a lot less than you expected to pay for it.

Congratulations, you just earned yourself a bargain.

May 15, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) dunks the ball as Washington Wizards forward Nene (42) looks on in the second quarter in game six of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, the Charlotte Hornets did the same, when they signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million contract.

Indiana foolishly let Sir Lancelot leave the kingdom in Indiana.

From the beginning of free agency it was clear Stephenson wanted to stay and continue to build with the Pacers organization. Instead, Indiana was too cheap and kept their five-year, $44 million deal on the table.

Not only does that leave the Pacers in a bad situation roster wise, it also means that there will be no more hilarious moments between Donnie Walsh and Lance Stephenson talking during games.

The Charlotte Hornets meanwhile, needed to make a buzz in free agency and did in landing the fire starter Stephenson.

The Hornets understood that Stephenson on a $27 million contract was a steal. People want to watch Stephenson play to see what he will do next.

Though he maybe known for his antics such as hilarious flops, bicep flexing after and-1’s, taunting other opponents and who could forget the epic ear blowing when he played against LeBron James (highlighted by Drake).

Stephenson always makes a few plays in games that will turn your head, make you get out of your seat and scream out loud like Ric Flair “Wooooooo! What did I just see?”

When you see him make plays like this, it is scary to think that Stephenson’s best basketball days are ahead of him.

As a Miami Heat fan, I saw it up close and personal. As Stephenson gradually started getting better, he went from the rookie on the end of the bench making choke signs, to taking it to Dwyane Wade and never backing down.

After Wade began averaging 24.3 points a game in the first opening three games of the series, Stephenson wore him down. Wade averaged 15.3 points a game and shot 44 percent from the field during his last three games of the Indiana series.

Stephenson’s confidence is something that will rub off on his teammates. The Pacers experienced this and it helped them fight the Miami Heat to the brink more than once over the past few seasons.

The blend of being aggressive and gaining basketball wisdom from Larry Bird helped mold Lance’s basketball demeanor. One of the reasons why Bird took an interest in Stephenson’s game is because of his toughness and his willingness to never back down. Bird himself was a fiery player and a lot of that is inside of Lance.

Feb 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers center Paul Gasol (16) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Los Angeles 118-98. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Not only is he an entertaining player to watch (one of my favorites) he is a great player who will at least be among the top 20 players in the NBA next year.

The soon-to-be 24-year-old guard (his birthday is less than eight days away), has yet to enter into his prime and was
a huge reason for the Pacers success last year.

Most people looking at the numbers see that Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 4.6 assists, and 7.2
rebounds a game. What they fail to realize is that Stephenson is has increased all of his numbers since his second year in the NBA. As a big guard that can play three different positions, his versatility is a trait that makes him a lot more special that most players in the NBA.

Stephenson’s five triple doubles in 2013-14 led the NBA, which vaulted him into the All-Star discussion. Stephenson ended up finishing second in Most Improved Player voting behind Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic.

Now joining a young team with Charlotte, they have acquired a player that not only is entertaining, good but also is getting better by the season.

With the Hornets, he and Kemba Walker will be the primary scorers. Having the basketball more and being the go-to man will push Stephenson into the forefront of the NBA realm.

The Hornets might have an All-Star on their hands with Stephenson.

The last All-Star the Charlotte franchise had was Gerald Wallace in 2010. While Baron Davis was the last All-Star for the Charlotte Hornets in 2002.

They need to give their fans a reason for excitement in the future, and signing Stephenson does just that.

With Stephenson, not only is he an entertaining player, and amazing talent, he is also a decent rapper.

“I been ballin’ hard since like the 5th grade/Watchin’ A.I. gettin’ 40 with the French braids.” as he says on this freestyle.

Next season, don’t be surprised if Stephenson will be blowing in your best player’s ear drop 40 in a city near you.

Thanks to Stephenson, Charlotte is buzzing.

 

Tags: Charlotte Hornets Lance Stephenson NBA

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