Lance Stephenson Would Be Better For The Milwaukee Bucks Than Steve Novak

Mar 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Lance Stephenson (1) returns up court against the Boston Celtics in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated Memphis 116-96. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Lance Stephenson (1) returns up court against the Boston Celtics in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated Memphis 116-96. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Although the Milwaukee Bucks seem set on making Steve Novak their 15th man, Lance Stephenson would be a better fit for the team’s needs.

People really do not like Lance Stephenson. LeBron James is probably among those not too fond of him, after Stephenson got under LeBron’s skin back in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.

Although Stephenson’s tactics weren’t exactly conventional, or pretty, he and the Indiana Pacers gave that Heat team the biggest test it would face in the Eastern Conference during the Heatles era.

Stephenson isn’t a star player, and he might not even be starter quality. But he was damn good in his stint with the injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies last season, averaging 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

More from Bucks News

The career 30.8 percent three-point shooter made 35.5 percent of his threes with the Grizzlies, and 40.4 percent of them at his other stop last season in Los Angeles. Those are at least solid back-up numbers in a vacuum.

In terms of what the Milwaukee Bucks plan on doing with their last roster spot, they’re amazing averages. The Bucks seemingly intend on inking Steve Novak to be their 15th man, once he’s cleared to play.

Stephenson averaged 14.2 points per game with Memphis last season. Novak scored 24 points total between his time with Oklahoma City and Milwaukee last year. The reason for that is teams generally shy away from giving Novak major minutes, thanks to his lack of talent on the defensive end.

He’s literally never been a plus defender according to defensive box plus/minus, and has never once added a full win to his team on defense over a season as per defensive win shares. With career averages of 0.6 steals and 0.2 blocks per 36 minutes, Novak isn’t playing good on-ball defense or generating many turnovers in his time on the floor.

Those limitations are the reason why Novak has scored less in his last three full seasons than Stephenson did in 26 games with the Grizzlies last year. Lance scored 369 points in Memphis–Novak has totaled 265 since leaving the New York Knicks in 2013.

And although Stephenson is often considered a mediocre three-point shooter at best and Novak is known for being a sharpshooter, Lance made more threes last year than Novak did in his last two seasons combined. Novak made more three-pointers per 36 minutes than Stephenson did in both of those years, but does that really matter if he can’t get himself on the floor?

Even beyond their individual talents, Stephenson fits better in Milwaukee than Novak does. At this stage in his career, Steve Novak should probably find minutes at power forward moreso than small forward.

He can’t lock anybody down, but Novak really isn’t capable of staying in front of small forwards anymore. No player on the Bucks bench is really capable of doing so–Michael Carter-Williams might honestly be the best option at this point, depending on Malcolm Brogdon‘s development.

Lance Stephenson can guard opposing forwards, and also pester them into submission. He’ll immediately jump into O.J. Mayo‘s old role of enforcer, and pull it off with aplomb. After all, who would you rather see picking up a technical or flagrant when things get heated–Lance Stephenson or Giannis Antetokounmpo?

More from Behind the Buck Pass

Let Stephenson be the bad guy, a role which he thrives so well in, while the other Bucks can focus on basketball. That’s not to say that Lance can’t play anymore–he had a 17.4 PER with Memphis last year, better than the league-average mark of 15.

Lance Stephenson needs a fresh start, and the Milwaukee Bucks need a backup forward. Steve Novak is a great teammate and has roots in Wisconsin, but Jason Terry covers the veteran leadership need and Novak just doesn’t appear to have much left in the tank.

Instead of adding someone who can’t guard any small forwards, the Bucks could add a guy who has been good enough to merit duel videos with both LeBron James:

and Kevin Durant:

Next: Top 10 Players In The Western Conference

Find me a Steve Novak vs LeBron James clip on YouTube, and we can talk about why he’s more deserving of that last roster spot than the 25-year-old Lance Stephenson. Until then I’ll be holding out hope for Lance to blow in Milwaukee’s opponents’ ears all season.