2013-14 Oklahoma City Thunder Player Previews: Jeremy Lamb

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Lamb went from unassuming bench player to the man who is expected to approximate James Harden's progression. How will this play itself out?

(WTLC begins its final preparation for the regular season, which begins on 10/30 against the Jazz, with our annual player profile previews. Each player gets a dual analysis as well as a grade of our expectations for each. See the grading scale at the bottom.)

Player JEREMY LAMB
Position Shooting Guard
Year in NBA 2
Nicknames "The Shepherd"
2012-13 Stats 3.1 PPG, 0.8 RPB, 0.2 APG, 0.1 BL, 0.1 ST, 0.3 TO
Past Accolades 12th pick in 2012 NBA draft
Injury History None
Contract Status Rookie contract, base $2 million

Craig A Brenner:

You will be hard pressed to find a bigger Jeremy Lamb fan than myself. I spent many hours watching pre-draft footage of him and reading any and all scouting reports about him before he was drafted in 2012. Seriously...My man crush on Jeremy Lamb is pretty insane and probably should involve the authorities and a few signed documents from a judge. When the Thunder made the poor decision to trade James Harden I knew that the development of Jeremy Lamb would take a step back but I had no idea it would take that big of a hit.

For my money a lot of this is not Jeremy Lamb's fault. He was a rookie getting traded to a team that was in the NBA Finals the season before. To crack the rotation and play meaningful minutes for the Thunder was going to be pretty damn tough. But I did not expect him to be completely buried on the bench and forced to only see playing time in the most garbage of garbage time games. I was extremely disappointed in Scott Brooks inability to integrate Jeremy Lamb into the offense last season. There was no way Lamb was going to replace the production of James Harden last season. To be honest if everything goes perfect for Lamb this season there is still no way he can replace what Harden was for this team. Unfortunately for Lamb he will forever be known as the guy who the Thunder got for James Harden. All that being said he can still give the Thunder enough production where it lessen the loss of James Harden.

Lamb has a very fluid shooting stroke that looks effortless much of the time and is very quick. He has ball handling skills that make him a dangerous weapon off the dribble. His athletic ability is so good that it almost looks like he is not even trying that hard when he plays on offense. A big knock on Lamb is his need to translate that athletic ability on the defensive end of the floor. It was clear in summer league that the Thunder are expecting more from Lamb this season as they rightfully should. His lack luster shooting percentage in the preseason worries me a little bit but I mostly equate that to the dearth of playing time last season and still adjusting to the speed of the NBA game. If Scott Brooks actually plays Lamb in critical moments of the game (which should happen with Westbrook's injury) then he will have a chance to pee in the cheerios of the people who couldn't yell loud enough that the Thunder will never be the same with James Harden.

Grade_b_medium

***

TreyHunter

Since the Oklahoma City Thunder have asserted themselves as Western Conference powers, they have had plenty of scoring off the bench.

James Harden and Kevin Martin have carried the load, giving Oklahoma City a reliable threat with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the bench.

Now the Thunder have Jeremy Lamb, a second-year guard out of Connecticut who has very limited experience at the NBA level.

Scott Brooks and Sam Presti have been high on Lamb, evidence of this came when they let Martin walk to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although they expect Reggie Jackson to play a big role off the bench, they expect Lamb to step up as well.

Lamb is known as a shooter, but so far in the pre-season he hasn't proven he can shoot. He's shown signs of understanding the little things like coming off screens, defense and facilitation. However, whether open or not, he hasn't been able to consistently put the ball in the hoop.

Lamb will benefit from playing alongside Jackson. However, with Jackson filling in for Westbrook as the starting point guard, Lamb will now be forced to create his own scoring opportunities more often. Derek Fisher will likely fill in as the backup point guard, but Fisher's strengths are leadership and sometimes shooting, not the drive-and-dish. Lamb will not be able to rely on consistent open three's unless he is playing with Jackson, Westbrook or Durant.

Fortunately for the Thunder, Lamb will continue to develop throughout the season, especially when the team gets their superstar point guard back from injury. If Lamb can learn from his experience, find his shot and mature like Brooks and Presti are banking on, he will turn into a dangerous bench player in the future.

Grade_cplus_medium

***

A Player has exceedingly high expectations attainable only if they play to their fullest ability.
B Player has reasonably high expectations that are attainable.
C
Player has moderate expectations which should be met with little trouble.
D
Player has moderate expectations but will struggle to meet them.
F
Player should not be on the Thunder roster.
X
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