Fantasy rumors: Stephenson rising

Will Stephenson remain a starter when Granger returns?

As soon as it was announced that Danny Granger would miss the first three weeks of the season with a strained calf, we speculated about the type of impact it’d have on Indiana’s rotation. Like most, we saw potential value in guys like Lance Stephenson or newcomer Chris Copeland stepping up, but who could have seen this?

While Copeland has logged a total of four minutes in the Pacers’ first three games, Stephenson has taken complete advantage of a return to the starting lineup and been an absolute dream for fantasy owners, averaging 19.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 3PG.

“He's for real,” ESPN’s Chad Ford said on Monday, answering a question about Stephenson in a SportsNation chat. “Has always been one of the most talented players in his age group. Maturity was the issue and the Pacers have done a great job of bringing him along. He's going to make a lot of money next summer -- and yes, I think the combo of him, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill are good enough to win it all this year. Wish I would have gone with my gut and put them as the favorites in the pre-season poll.”

Once Granger returns, and that could happen at any point in the next few weeks, it’s doubtful that Stephenson will continue to play over 36 minutes a game, but based on what he’s shown over the course of the playoffs and early this season, we have to believe that he could remain in the starting lineup.

“That’s definitely a possibility,” said ESPN Insider Amin Elhassan. “This lineup has a lot of chemistry now over last year-plus, and bringing Granger off bench would allow him more offensive freedom since the Pacers’ offense now centers around George and the post players.”

Here is some of the other chatter swirling around the NBA rumor mill that’s worth paying close attention to ...