San Antonio Spurs News

Lance Stephenson Needs More Minutes in Game 3

By Ian Smith
Apr 9, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Lance Stephenson (1) looks for a foul during the final seconds of the game against the Golden State Warriors at FedExForum. The Warriors won 100-99. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Lance Stephenson (1) looks for a foul during the final seconds of the game against the Golden State Warriors at FedExForum. The Warriors won 100-99. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /
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After two blowouts at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies need an offensive boost. Lance Stephenson is one of the few remaining options for the Grizzlies who can reliably create his own shot on offense, yet he’s been limited to just under 19 minutes a game so far this series.

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. As this series moves to Memphis, the Grizzlies have to switch up their starting lineup to try something fresh, because clearly what they’ve been putting out on the court isn’t working. 

Matt Barnes simply isn’t getting it done on offense. While he brings solid defensive presence, Stephenson can replicate Barnes’ defense while also bringing the athleticism on the offensive end to create scoring opportunities.

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Stephenson and Barnes are both inconsistent and enigmatic, letting their emotional instability affect their performances far too often. The difference is that Stephenson can provide a spark on offense that Barnes isn’t capable of.

Going into this series, Barnes’ main knock was his lack of offensive ability, and he’s proven to be a detriment to the Grizzlies so far in that regard. He’s shooting under 23% from the field and under 15% from 3 point range through the first two games. Barnes comes with expected limitations on offense, but for how often he’s shooting the basketball, his putrid performance is hindering the team.

While his flaws can normally be shielded with the right lineup, the absences of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have increased his responsibility, and hence exposed him. Barnes is tied for third on the team in shots taken for these two games, which is far too high for someone of his shortcomings.

Stephenson needs to be inserted into the starting lineup. For this series, he’s 3rd on the team in scoring while ranking only 8th on the team in minutes played. For a team that hasn’t scored more than 74 points in a game this series, they need all the offensive help they can get.

Stephenson probably won’t be able to put the Grizzlies over the top, but more minutes for him and less minutes for Barnes at small forward is the logical adjustment Dave Joerger needs to implement.

Kawhi Leonard is the best perimeter defender in basketball, and while Stephenson has the athleticism to get his fair share of buckets, Leonard won’t allow him to take over the game even if he develops a rhythm for an extended period of time.

Again, Stephenson’s addition to the starting lineup will probably not make a difference in the outcome of the game, but the Grizzlies need to shake things up in any way they can to avoid being humiliated on their home court.

Joerger hasn’t been taking advantage of the skills that Stephenson provides. Zach Randolph will need assistance in scoring the ball, and Stephenson is the rational player to call upon.

Next: Keys to Victory: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Game 3

Vince Carter’s more of a wildcard for this game due to his age, but after Randolph, Stephenson might be the most capable offensive weapon the Grizzlies have. They need to increase his minutes for game 3.

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