Please, Boston: DON’T Consider Trading For Lance Stephenson!


During the summer, I vividly remember writing about why the Boston Celtics should at least make an effort to acquire shooting guard Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson was a player whose services were being sought out by many clubs, and since I have never been sold on Avery Bradley as the Celtics’ starting shooting guard, I felt Stephenson was at least worth an effort.

Fast forward to January, 2015.  Rumors are starting to circulate that the Charlotte Hornets view the Lance Stephenson experiment a failure, and that they are willing to shop him.  It makes sense that the Hornets would shop him – the team is 18-25 right now, fourth in its division and 9th in the Eastern Conference – and I don’t see why Boston would want to sit on all of its draft picks, so I expect Danny Ainge to begin swapping picks and parts for quality players at some point . . .

. . . but please, basketball gods, do NOT whisper any thoughts in Trader Danny’s ear that would make him consider making a play for Lance.

All statistics come courtesy of Bleacher Report and; shot chart courtesy of Austin Clemens.

Lance’s Shooting Woes

The first thing we should look at in considering whether Stephenson should be on the Celtics’ radar is his offensive production.  In a nutshell, it’s a huge pile of, ¨Meh,¨ this season.

What number/statistic do you want to consider?  Scoring?  Try 9.9 PPG in 2014-2015.  Rebounding?  Lance grabs 6.3 a night – I’ĺl take that.  Assists?  He dishes 4.7 APG – again, okay.   Shooting?  Lance is knocking down 38.4%, with a true shooting percentage of 42.5%.   Three-point shooting?  Well . . . .

Okay – so he’s not a threat from deep!  Which might explain why his offensive win share is -1.1.

With the exception of his assists per game, which are essentially the same as last season, Stephenson’s numbers have dropped across the board this year in Charlotte.   Of course, offense is probably 35-40% of the reason why a team would be looking at him, but still: your shooting guard needs to be able to shoot, with the desired result being an orange ball falling inside an iron hoop.

In some areas (rebounds and assists), Stephenson WOULD be an upgrade over Bradley.  Overall, though, you would have to call replacing Bradley with Stephenson a wash, offensively, and you don’t give up draft picks just to break even.


Much like Bradleys worth to a team is measured more on the defensive end, so too is Stephenson’s worth.  Last season, Bleacher Report ranked Stephenson as the 9th best defensive shooting guard in the NBA.

More from Rumors

Too bad BR ranked Bradley as the third best defender at the 2 in that same article.

Lance does have a few statistical advantages over Bradley: he leads all guards (point and shooting) this year in defensive rebounding rate, grabbing an astonishing 20% of his team’s defensive boards.  Bradley only grabs 7.7%.  And Stephenson has a defensive win share of 1.1, versus Bradley’s 0.6.

Stephenson is taller, has a wider wingspan, and is stronger than Bradley, so you can argue that teams have more flexibility with him, as he can be used to cover the 3 and sometimes even the 4 spot.  Still, Bradley is much quicker than Stephenson (according to the BR report, 71% percent of the league can boast that they are quicker than Stephenson), is a smarter defender, and gives up fewer points per possession (the most recent data I have is that AB surrenders .73 PPP, compared to Stephenson’s .86).

Once again, bringing in Lance gives Boston a bit more flexibility and length on defense, but also a defender who is not as strong an on-the-ball defender who tends to get burned in isolation.


Heres my biggest concern when it comes to Lance Stephenson: his maturity and ability/inability to be a team player.

As long as I have been following the Celtics, I have yet to read anything about AB being a distraction to his teammates on or off the court.  He doesn’t attract attention to himself thanks to juvenile behavior during games, as he prefers to be annoying because of his in-your-face defense.

Obviously, the same cannot be said of Lance Stephenson:

There have been enough stories about how difficult Stephenson can be to coach and manage, and when you have a young team like the Boston Celtics have, that is not the sort of player you want to bring in.

Something else to consider, as Gary Payton points out quite well in the next video, is that Lance Stephenson is a much better role player than he is a star:

When he played for Indiana, Stephenson was not given the toughest assignment on defense.  This is not the case in Charlotte this season, and it probably would not be the case in Boston, either, given the Celtics’ defensive deficiencies.   If this year has shown us anything, it is that Lance Stephenson can be a really good defender on a team with other really good defenders . . . but if he is the best defender on your team, then your team has problems.


I have no idea if Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics coaching staff have had any serious discussions about making a play for Lance Stephenson.   I’m sure it must be tempting – lord knows the Boston Celtics are going to need to bring in some top talent soon if they are serious about building a championship contender – but Lance would not be a good fit in Boston, especially when you consider what the Celtics would have to give up to get him.