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‘Winning culture’ drove Lamar Stevens to sign with Celtics

Stevens hopes to bring defensive intensity to the Celtics.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Stevens signed a training camp deal with Boston last month after being waived by the San Antonio Spurs back in July. Now, he’s ready to fit right into a Celtics team with the ultimate goal of winning an 18th NBA championship this season.

“The winning culture,” Lamar Stevens said when asked what drove him to join the Celtics this summer. “When I talked to Brad [Stevens], when I came here for a workout, he said, ‘the only thing they worry about is winning,’ and I felt like that was perfect for what I’m about and what I want to bring and the things I’m trying to achieve in my career.”

Boston’s squad is looking extremely different than it did just over four months ago, when they were eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Miami Heat. A team that showed enough toughness and grit to battle back from an 0-3 deficit saw many of its warriors head to new homes in the offseason.

Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, and Robert Williams III all provided the Celtics with an edge in the energy category. With the trio set to suit up elsewhere this season, Stevens hopes that he can fill the void left by their departures.

“Yeah I think I can step right into that,” he said. “You know, adding Jrue [Holiday] on the defensive end and me — I feel like those are roles that we can fill right in. I’m excited for the opportunity and to bring what I bring to the team and hopefully that can uplift us. Our main goal is to win, each day, and I think we can help with that.”

The 26-year-old forward spent last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He appeared in 62 regular-season games for Cleveland and started 25 times. In 18.1 minutes each night, Stevens averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 31.6% from beyond the arc.

That three-point percentage is a bit lower than a team like Boston — who shot the second-most threes last year — would like. However, it’s a category in which Stevens has improved in across each of his three years as a pro.

He knocked down just 16% of his attempts from distance as a rookie in 2020-21 and then improved to 27.7% in the following season. The former Penn State standout told reporters at the Auerbach Center that shooting has been a major focus for him ever since he came into the league.

“I think that I improved — I think each year of my career I’ve improved on my shot. I think the biggest thing is that this year I feel like I’ve really improved on it, and I’m excited to show that.”

With Boston’s depth being called into to question after the pair of major moves they made this summer, Stevens is looking at a great opportunity to find a niche with one of the league’s top teams.

If his shot proves to be consistent it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could earn some real rotation minutes throughout the year.

Celtics fans will be able to get their first look at the new No. 77 on Sunday night when Boston hosts the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden for their preseason opener.

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