What is up with Jeremy Lamb's confidence?
I just can't seem to understand the mental state of this basketball player. Jeremy Lamb doesn't have trouble finding the right place on offense, nor putting himself in a position to score. But Lamb can really lose his head during key moments of games, and it's having a negative effect on the team as a whole. This isn't even mentioning Lamb's deplorable shooting percentage or not passable defense. Lamb's endeavors can be maddening to the average fan, but it's not always easy to point out exactly where or how Lamb hurts OKC.
Using my memory and the handy ESPN play by play for each match, I've identified four separate moments from the past four games where Lamb has really managed to kill the team's momentum. All are for separate reasons, but it all seems to link back to a simple lack of confidence. Judge for yourself:
Nov 12th, 109-94 W @ BOS
What you see here is Jeremy Lamb wasting three very critical offensive possessions during this first quarter of this game. With the Thunder down big, Reggie Jackson was doing all he could to attract attention. Lamb's defender left him twice, and Lamb failed to make either three. On the third play, Lamb was given a nice weak side cut opportunity but couldn't convert on a relatively uncontested floater. The result wasn't too harsh, since OKC won the game, but Lamb's absence during crunch time is very telling.
Nov 14th, 89-96 L vs. DET
Here, Lamb throws away two possessions during the early fourth of a close game. The first offensive foul occurred off the ball and was just silly on Lamb's part. Singler had been doing all he could to get in Lamb's grill, so Lamb responded by elbowing Singler in the face. The next possession saw Lamb dig right back into Singler. But once Lamb ran away from Singler to receive the ball, he tripped over his own feet and turned the ball over. Just silly, silly stuff.
Nov 16th, 65-69 L vs. HOU
This sequence isn't perhaps as bad as some of the other ones, but I hate it just as much because Lamb actually killed the positive momentum that he brought. During a tightly contested game with the Rockets, Lamb was lucky enough to have Trevor Ariza go under a screen on defense, allowing him an open three. Ariza was given the ball on the ensuing possession, and Lamb did Ariza the service of playing Ariza way too close. Ariza shook Lamb with a simple crossover on his way to the hoop. Lamb wanted to immediately respond, doing so by jacking up an early shot clock three. It missed, and was easily recovered by the Rockets. Momentum gone.
Nov 18th, 81-98 L @ UTA
This one comes from the last possible point the Thunder could have mounted a reasonable comeback against the Jazz. Early in the fourth with the Thunder down double digits, Lamb wastes three different offensive possessions in three different ways. The first way is via a very badly clanked open three. On the next possession, Lamb was effectively cloaked by Hayward the entire time. Lamb's lack of movement stranded Reggie Jackson, and resulted in a turnover. Lastly, Lamb failed another floater, with Hayward providing no physical resistance to Lamb's shot.
It always sucks to rag on your own team, but I don't have a lot positive to say about Jeremy Lamb's on the court play this season. Lamb's had a couple of decent games statistically, but even in a game where he might have been successful (like against Detroit) there were still portions of the game where he hurt the team.
I'm not willing to say that Lamb couldn't be a role player, or that he doesn't even have the skills to be a good player in this league. But the way in which he plays the game breathes insecurity. It's almost like Lamb's constantly trying to overcompensate all the time. Either Lamb's throwing up the ball in a panic or putting himself in danger of a travel with unnecessary footwork after he receives the ball. Furthermore, a bad play seems to either light a fire under his butt or drag his arms straight to the dirt. It's like there's no middle ground for him, and neither extreme does him any good.
Obviously I'm just some sports blogger trying to judge the body language of someone I don't know from afar. But if I had to throw together a winning basketball team on any level right now, Jeremy Lamb would be near the bottom of my recruiting list.
What do you think of Lamb's recent performance? Let us know in the comments!