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Lamar Stevens getting a lot of love leading up to NBA draft

Photo by Penn State

Lamar Stevens can do a lot of things well, which is why he became one of the best Penn State players of all time.

Stevens’ versatility also gives him a good chance to make it in the NBA, and he’s hoping to hear his name called in the draft Wednesday night.

There are no guarantees Stevens will get drafted, although he is projected by many to be picked late in the second round.

There is a knock on Stevens, clearly, that could hurt his chances in the draft and in the NBA. He was never a consistent 3-point threat at Penn State, and at 6-foot-8, he’ll have to get better at that part of his game to reach his biggest goals.

Still, Stevens can defend and rebound, and at 225 pounds, he can body up with a lot of guys and hold his own.

“I think that I can guard multiple positions,” Stevens said in the Forbes article above.

“Whatever role or position that I’m asked to play, I’m just going to make the most of it and take advantage of whatever time I’m given,” he noted.

“I’m just excited,” Stevens added. “No matter what happens, it’s just shining the hard work that I put in and the people that helped me along my path.”

Stevens has had contact, according to Forbes, with the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Suns, Hornets, Kings, Pelicans and Heat.

The following thought is an interesting one about Stevens:

There’s a lot to be said for that line of thinking. Stevens was the star and had to do everything for Penn State the past two years. His overall effectiveness actually dropped off some from his junior to senior year, in large part because was asked to do so much and was keyed on more by opposing teams.

Stevens probably will never be a star in the NBA, but his strength and versatility could get him on the court as a rotation player, and it’s in that role that he could become valuable. He won’t have to be a big-time scorer, but he can score well enough to earn minutes, plus he’ll contribute defensively.

Here’s a very good scouting report on Stevens from PeachTreeHoops.

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Stevens converted only 86 of his 312 three-point attempts across four seasons, translating to a 27.6 percent clip from long distance. It wasn’t as if things improved during his collegiate tenure either, with Stevens actually sinking to an ugly 24.2 percent in his final two seasons. While there are a number of positives — and we’ll get to them shortly — every discussion of his draft stock has to include the questions about his jump shot.

Simply put, there isn’t a lot to hold onto when it comes to projecting a favorable outcome for Stevens as a floor-spacer, with the potential exception of a respectable 74 percent clip from the free throw line. It is at least possible that Stevens could find his footing in a small NBA role without the development of a semi-reliable jump shot but, at the same time, it might be hard for him to garner the opportunity to establish himself unless a team buys into potential improvement from the three-point line.

On the more positive side, Stevens is quite athletic and powerful, using his 230-pound frame effectively to blow past and through defenders offensively. He has good quickness for his size and, as you may expect given his physical frame, Stevens proves to be quite strong on the floor. He uses that strength and power to draw fouls effectively, attempting more than 11 free throws per 100 possessions as a senior, and that allows Stevens to maintain better efficiency than you may expect given his shaky shooting from the floor.

All told, Stevens has clear positives, ranging from his ability to attack the rim to his projectable 6’8 frame and defensive potential. That might be enough for the soon-to-be 23-year-old to garner a late second-round landing spot, though a Two-Way contract may be a more likely goal. Ultimately, though, it is at least somewhat difficult to see Stevens reaching his potential without tangible improvement in his long-distance shooting performance, and he wouldn’t be an ideal fit for the Atlanta Hawks as a result of that uncertainty.

Here’s a look at some of the many positive things written about Stevens in recent days.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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