After Utah matched the Charlotte Hornets max offer sheet to Gordon Hayward it seemed as if they would not make a big move this offseason. It looked like they would roll into opening night with a starting 5 of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, MKG, Cody Zeller/Marvin Williams, and Al Jefferson. However, that all has changed with the news that Charlotte has signed former Indiana Pacer guard Lance Stephenson. Now that Lance will come to Charlotte, how exactly does hit fit in with the current roster?
This season taught the world a few things about Lance Stephenson. He made it known that he is a very talented basketball player, and that he just might be insane. Stephenson had a career year averaging 13.8 points, 4.6 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game. He also led the NBA in triple doubles, and shot a career high 35.2 percent from three point range.
He is a runaway freight train in the open floor, and would likely excel in an offensive system more fluid than what the Indiana Pacers run. The rumors about his selfishness permeate every scouting report about him, but he is actually a very good playmaker and a willing passer at times. He is a lockdown defender when he wants to be, and will only get better in that department as he becomes a more intelligent defensive player.
However, the immaturity is still very real. Whether it is stealing rebounds from teammates, blowing in LeBron’s ear, or calling out the Heat before the Eastern Conference finals it is clear Lance has some growing up to do. Whether or not he becomes a distraction in the locker room remains to be seen, but I am more excited about his basketball talents, than I am concerned about his perceived character issues.
His talent and versatility make him very intriguing. Signing him will improve the perimeter defense, and allow the Hornets to slide Gerald Henderson to the bench (unless he goes to Indiana in a sign and trade), making the bench much deeper. His playmaking ability would also help create open shots for Kemba Walker, and watching him run the break with Kemba and MKG would be extremely entertaining. His explosiveness off the dribble is something fans in Charlotte have seen few times since the Bobcats came to town. Stephenson gives the Hornets one more player that can create their own shot, which is huge during crunch time. His improving three point shot is also enormous for a Charlotte team that struggled from deep last season. Stephenson’s addition to this team will improve the offense in several ways, and relieve some of the scoring burden from Al Jefferson, and Kemba Walker.
No matter what you believe about his personality or behavioral characteristics Lance Stephenson is a fantastic basketball player with exciting potential. The Hornets needed to improve their perimeter scoring if they were going to continue rising in the Eastern Conference. I love that Michael Jordan, and the rest of the front office did not let failing to sign Hayward deter them from staying aggressive in the free agent market. The depth chart just got a little deeper, and competition for playing time will be intense come training camp. If all goes according to plan, the Charlotte Hornets are poised to have a breakout season. I know some of you readers had reservations about signing Lance Stephenson. How do you feel now? Can you talk yourself into Lance? Were you excited as soon as you heard about the signing? Let us know in the comments!