Lamar Stevens had four very good seasons at Penn State. But because March Madness was canceled due to COVID during his senior season, he never got to shine on the big stage. His Nittany Lions team was certain to make some noise in the tournament.
He went undrafted before landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had some very good performances and even a game-winner during an impressive rookie campaign. As he comes into year two, he is still trying to carve out consistent minutes.
If it was up to me, Lamar would be in the rotation on opening night. But some hurdles remain. Here are a few reasons he belongs out there on a nightly basis.
He Plays His Tail Off
Finding guys who bust their behind on defense isn’t easy. On a Cleveland team where they allow a lot of points, Lamar is a guy who comes in and always plays hard. Sure, his shot might not be great, but the man can be a lockdown defender for long stretches. He proved it last season.
He is capable of playing three different positions on the floor, anywhere from SG up through PF. He is long enough to guard both wing positions and gritty enough to take on some muscular fours who like to post up. He doesn’t have much of a weakness on that end.
The recent addition of Lauri Markkanen might make this tough, but he still deserves it. The team is better with him on the court. Most Cavaliers fans would agree with this assessment.
Does More Than Cedi
Cedi Osman has had some very good games for the Cavs in the past three seasons. But he has also had some nights where he was atrocious. Games where his D is bad, and he is missing all of his shots. The low FG% is telling that he is not going to be able to score for you every night.
Osman’s role varied game to game throughout last season, and he was even a DNP-CD for a stretch of five games in the middle of the season. He rejoined the starting lineup when they had injuries at the wing position and showed out a little.
But at the end of the day, Osman hurts your defense. He’s a wild card. With Stevens, you’ll get constant effort and energy. And it is clear from Summer League that he put some time in to try and fix his shot. He provides more. Come on, JB. Give him a chance. Please.
An Energy Guy
As it stands now, the Cavs don’t have a real energy guy. A player who can come in off the bench and make a big play that sparks better effort. As soon as they traded Jordan Clarkson to Utah, they lost that. And they really have not had it since.
Stevens can come up with a block or a steal that leads to a transition dunk. He is essentially Isaac Okoro for the second unit. He won’t do as much stat-wise, but he will be out there hounding his matchup and making winning plays.
When it comes down to it, every team needs a player to change the pace and make winning plays with the second unit. That is what Stevens can do for you.
So, JB Bickerstaff, you know what to do. Minutes for Lamar. Please and thanks.