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Lamar Stevens not selected in NBA draft, but does get good news with two-way deal

Photo by Penn State Athletics

Penn State star Lamar Stevens was not picked in the NBA draft Wednesday night. It wasn’t a huge surprise, given the big questions about Stevens’ shooting.

Stevens was projected to possibly go in the final 5-10 spots in the 60-player draft, but that did not happen.

The Philadelphia 76ers, his hometown team, had the No. 58 pick, and that would have been a dream come true for Stevens. But it wasn’t meant to be.

However, just minutes after the draft ended, this news broke about Stevens:

He will begin training camp with the Cavs on Dec  1. If he doesn’t make the team in camp, Stevens will get a chance to go to the Cavs’ G League team to work on his game in hopes of earning a spot with the NBA club at some point.

“I’m never going to stop working hard or stop chasing my dreams,” Stevens said in a PSU release. “I’m excited about what the Cleveland Cavaliers have planned for me and my development as a professional. I am so blessed and privileged to have this opportunity and I’m going to make the absolute most of it. I am so thankful to my parents, my family, my coaches and everyone who has helped me reach this goal and for their support as I continue this journey.”

For those wondering what Stevens did on draft day, he posted this picture on Twitter of him having lunch with Patrick Chambers, his coach at Penn State. Chambers resigned last month under pressure, but he remains close with Stevens and many current members of the PSU team.

While Stevens did just about everything during his time at Penn State, finishing as the second-leading scorer in program history, there were always concerns about his NBA potential heading into the draft because of his jump shot.

Stevens shot 46.8 percent during his career at PSU, but only 27.6 percent from 3.

Even though he’s got a good body (6-8, 225) and can defend and rebound, the perimeter shooting was always something that potentially could hurt his stock.

Here’s a look once again at an excellent scouting report done on Stevens by the folks at PeachTreeHoops, a site that covers the Atlanta Hawks.

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.

Here’s some Twitter reaction involving Stevens, starting with a great point about college stars Markus Howard (Marquette) and Myles Powell (Seton Hall) also not getting drafted.

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