5 things to know about new Celtic forward Lamar Stevens

Celtics

The 26-year-old played the first three seasons of his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Stevens will likely fight for a roster spot in training camp and preseason play. AP Photo/AJ Mast
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The Celtics reportedly signed guard/forward Lamar Stevens to a deal on Friday ahead of training camp, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The ex-Cleveland Cavalier and San Antonio Spur will battle for a roster spot leading up to the 2023-24 season. With the addition of Stevens, who is listed primarily as a forward, Boston’s depth at the position currently looks like this:

Forwards: Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Sam Hauser, Jordan Walsh, Oshae Brissett, Lamar Stevens

Here are five things to know about the new 26-year-old Celtic:

He was a four-star recruit out of high school.

Stevens, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native, attended Haverford High School before transferring to Roman Catholic High School his senior year. He was named an all-state student-athlete in his last two years.

The 6-foot-6 wing was ranked Pennsylvania’s top high school basketball player his senior season. Stevens earned himself an 80 scouting grade from ESPN out of high school.

Stevens was ranked No. 100 in ESPN’s 2016 Top 100 recruits list. He was also listed as Pennsylvania’s third-ranked high school basketball player.

He received offers from Indiana, Penn State, and Villanova.

Ultimately committing to Penn State and playing there for three years, Stevens was sought after by a handful of premier basketball programs like Indiana and Villanova. Other schools he was interested in included Marquette, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Southern Methodist, and Temple.

Villanova was the first school to extend an offer to Stevens. The Wildcats were in on him early, sending over their offer when Stevens was just a sophomore.

Stevens chose Penn State in the end, remaining in his home state, though three-and-a-half hours from his hometown of Philadelphia. He committed to the Nittany Lions at the beginning of his senior year. Stevens cited hitting it off quickly with then-head coach Pat Chambers as a big reason why he decided on Penn State.

“Me and coach Chambers, we just had … the most open, honest conversation with each other,” Stevens said shortly after committing. “And that’s honestly when I got the feeling that I knew I could trust this man, I’d trust coach Chambers with my life.”

He played alongside two high school teammates at Penn State.

Fellow Pennsylvania all-state selections Tony Carr and Nazeer Bostick joined Stevens as Nittany Lions out of high school. The three competed together in Roman Catholic’s championship-winning game as seniors and clearly worked well as teammates.

Despite Stevens transferring to Roman Catholic his senior year, he and Carr had been best friends since middle school.

The duo continued to tear it up at the collegiate level as Carr was named a Big-Ten All-Freshman and Stevens claimed Player of the Week honors in February. Both even scored 20 points in the same game twice as freshmen.

He went undrafted in 2020.

Although Stevens is fifth all-time on Penn State’s scoring list with 1,660 points, he was not drafted after leaving school a year early for the 2020 NBA draft.

Cleveland eventually agreed to a two-way contract with Stevens shortly after the draft. He quickly made his debut a few days after the 2020-21 season opener in late December. Stevens appeared in 40 games as a rookie, all coming off the bench.

Seemingly taking pride in making an NBA career after not being selected by a team, Stevens showed support for his former Cavaliers and undrafted teammate Dean Wade when he signed a contract extension last September.

He is known for his defensive prowess.

While Stevens is not necessarily known for his offense, the 230-pound wing shows out on the defensive end. He owns a career 111.3 defensive rating, a stat derived from the number of points the player allows per 100 possessions.

Stevens owned the best defensive rating with the Cavaliers last season at 111.1 in 62 games. Thus, his team secured the league’s lowest defensive rating in 2022-23 at 110.6.

In his three-year NBA career, Stevens is good for a half-steal every game and 0.3 blocks per contest.

These stats clearly mean something to his new team. The Celtics reportedly want Stevens to help fill the toughness hole left by the departures of Marcus Smart and Grant Williams, per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.

Boston’s training camp begins on Tuesday, Oct. 3.


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