Cavs’ Lamar Stevens has a chance to be NBA’s next great undrafted player

Lamar Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Lamar Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Finding an undrafted gem in the NBA is like striking gold. Moves like that can help to keep the great teams great, provide a team with an extra spark, and are always a feel-good story. Players like Ben Wallace, Bruce Brown, and John Starks come to mind when thinking of the best undrafted players.

Fred VanVleet’s recent rise puts him in that category as well. The Miami Heat have struck gold with undrafted players over the last few seasons with Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Max Strus all having key roles during their time with the team.

For this year’s playoffs, it has been Dorian Finney-Smith for the Dallas Mavericks. He has averaged 12 points on 45/42.5/85.7, including a game where he hit a career-high 8 three-pointers in a win against the Pheonix Suns.

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have the NBA’s next great undrafted player in Lamar Stevens who has all the makings of a modern NBA wing.

Stevens might have a chance to be the NBA’s next great undrafted player.

He has a sturdy 6’6″, 230-pound frame with his lower body strength and quick feet making him able to guard two through four, as well as some point guards.

He has a sneaky good mid-range game that has become his patented move. His finishing is another strong point as his athleticism allows him to adjust in the air and fight through contact.

Stevens had a very encouraging run with the team to end the season. In the team’s last 12 games, Stevens averaged 10.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 53% shooting from the field. This run includes five games of at least 16 points.

The biggest thing for Lamar is to improve his three-point shot. Just a 27.7% shooter this season, jump shot improvements would improve team spacing and allow for a more defined role for Stevens.

Another question about Stevens is what his role is on the team. His lower body strength and lack of an outside shot make him a great option as a backup power forward, P.J. Tucker-like (though Tucker is polished from the corners).

But who would Stevens play over? Collin Sexton likely coming back means one less spot for Stevens to occupy. One of Lauri Markkanen/Caris LeVert/Isaac Okoro would move to the bench with Kevin Love already occupying the sixth man position.

Cedi Osman is always a question mark and could take up a spot as well. The backup point guard seems like an area that needs to be addressed as well and I haven’t even touched on minutes for the Cavs’ lottery pick.

All is well for Stevens, however. It took Fred VanVleet 3-4 years before he got steady opportunities. Dorian Finney-Smith wasn’t a steady contributor until his 4th season. Max Strus didn’t get much opportunity until his third season. The list goes on and on.

Stevens is going into his third season and the expectation is that he’ll get continued opportunities throughout the season, as he absolutely should.

Next. Clarity with Love’s outlook with Cavs next season is reassuring. dark

His improvements this offseason will be key and if he can make strides in certain areas offensively, the team will have no choice but to carve something out for him.