In the slew of post-LeBron James offseason signings for the Los Angeles Lakers, the one that perhaps received the most scrutiny was that of Lance Stephenson. Stephenson, while a valuable veteran, has always been a spotty three-point shooter with issues regarding his on-court behavior.
At small forward, many thought he was hardly the best fit alongside James. Now, however, it’s clear that Stephenson brings value to the Lakers roster. He is one of two bench players to have led the Lakers in scoring in a win, and he is having an unexpectedly strong year from three-point distance.
It wasn’t long ago that Stephenson was shooting a career-high percentage from deep. Rather than accept full credit for his work in the gym, Stephenson mentioned Lakers assistant coach Jesse Mermuys as the key behind improved shooting, via team’s Twitter account:
“Repetition. Shooting a lot, shooting at game speed, shooting it straight up, and definitely my shooting coach (Jesse Mermuys), he’s doing a great job. He’s pushing me every day, getting me here early and having me here late. He’s doing a good job with that.”
Stephenson has really found his stride in his role with the Lakers. As a bench player who gets around 15 minutes per game, he has managed to be impactful on multiple occasions.
In fact, he’s sparked winning comeback efforts on multiple separate occasions this season, with a big one being a come-from-behind win against the Denver Nuggets early this season.
When Stephenson first signed, it wouldn’t have been outlandish to suggest he could be a spark plug. However, what may not have been expected was Stephenson would be universally praised by teammates and coaches and shoot the second-highest three-point percentage of his career.
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