The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the youngest teams in the National Basketball Association right now, and that can be both a blessing and a curse.
But the jury is still out on a few others, and one of them is power forward Lamar Stevens.
Stevens just wrapped up his second season, and if he fulfills his potential, he could help the Cavs moving forward and become a part of their rotation.
What are fair expectations for Stevens next season?
His First Two Years
Stevens, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound power forward, was signed to a two-way contract by Cleveland early last season after going unselected in the 2020 NBA Draft.
In college, he played for the Penn State Nittany Lions, an athletic program that is known much more for football than basketball.
Stevens played a full four-season term with Penn State, and during that time he averaged 16.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds a game.
He was never even a passable 3-point shooter, as he made just 27.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Given that the NBA’s 3-point line is further from the basket than the college iteration of the 3-point arc, it may be unreasonable to ever expect Stevens to be any type of a threat from downtown.
But it does appear that he is a good finisher at or near the basket.
He made 73.0 percent of his shot attempts from three feet and in this season, and he tallied 33 dunks in 63 games despite getting just 16.1 minutes a game.
His decent vertical leap and finishing ability appear to make him a nice target on the pick-and-roll and on other plays where he can flash into the lane and get open.
Late in the season, Stevens went on a bit of a run, posting double figures in scoring in six of nine games, which culminated in an 18-point effort on 6-of-10 shooting plus three blocked shots against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Man Lamar Stevens is so tuffff. He’s now a lock to be in the Cavs playoff rotation and he 100% deserves it. pic.twitter.com/EqXC7A0TG2
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) April 4, 2022
He is also pretty efficient from the mid-range area, as he shot 47.5 percent from 10-16 feet and 46.4 percent from 16 feet out to the 3-point line.
Stevens’ best effort of the year came on Jan. 12 when he went 10-of-15 from the field and scored a team-high 23 points, to go along with seven rebounds and two steals in a 111-91 win over the Utah Jazz.
Lamar Stevens turned into a three-level scorer yesterday and used his physical style of ball to score a career high in points vs the Utah Jazz.
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) January 13, 2022
Role Players Are Important
Stevens’ ultimate potential may only be as a bench player who comes in and throws his weight around while scoring a few buckets by being active and playing off his more talented teammates.
But that would be perfectly fine, as the young Cavs could use such a player.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has built the team around hard-nosed defense, and if Stevens puts more focus and execution into that end of the floor, he could earn himself more playing time moving forward.