It’s official, Lance Stephenson to start at three for Clippers

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This was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers back in June, just after the team traded for Lance Stephenson, making it clear this was more of a move about the bench:

“I don’t know if I made the trade for him to be a starter, per se, I look at him really more to be a utility player that can come in and play literally three different positions for us…. In the worst case and it’s not a bad case [Lance starts], and I still think that Lance is an upgrade at that position even if we wanted to start him. But I’m planning on doing more things this summer without saying much.”

This was Doc Rivers Wednesday morning of the Clippers’ season opener up in Sacramento, via James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

The idea here is to reduce the load on Paul Pierce, who will play with the second unit but likely finish close games. While Rivers talked up starting Wesley Johnson for a while, that idea never had legs once Johnson got on the court.

Stephenson is the Clippers’ best perimeter defender of the guys in the mix for the three, but he’s struggled working off the ball on offense in the preseason — he shot 6-of-14 inside eight feet and 1-of-9 from three. He’s going to have to get used to it because Chris Paul and Blake Griffin should be the hubs, and we know DeAndre Jordan will get more touches now (especially early in games). If the Clippers are going to bring Pierce off the bench, Stephenson is the best option to start off the guys on the roster, and if his minutes are limited it may not be much of an issue.

Is this an upgrade over Matt Barnes is another question entirely.