It can be argued that Lance Stephenson was among the players most deserving of All-Star status in the Eastern Conference who was ultimately left off the roster.
Kyle Lowry of the Raptors also belongs in that discussion, but Stephenson’s overall play this season with averages of 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists on one of the league’s top teams had most feeling he had a legitimate shot at one of the reserve spots.
It didn’t shake out that way, and the ever-honest Stephenson had no trouble expressing his displeasure over being left out.
But there was still anger beneath the surface less than 24 hours after Stephenson’s learned NBA coaches did not vote him as a reserve to the Eastern Conference all-star team.
“I’m mad,” Stephenson said. “I feel like I had my breakout year last year. I showed I can play with anyone on the floor and I felt like this year, I brought a little bit more to my game.
“But other people saw it differently. I’m just going to keep working hard and prove everyone wrong.”
Stephenson would have been the third member of the Pacers to get in, joining Paul George (voted in as a starter) and Roy Hibbert (named as a reserve). That wouldn’t have been unprecedented for a team with such a strong start to the season, especially when you consider just how dreadful the level of play has been in the Eastern Conference.
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Either Joe Johnson or Paul Millsap are the names that stand out as ones Stephenson would have replaced had he made the squad, but neither is a particularly egregious selection.