There are lots of reason to be excited about Billy Donovan, but my favorite reason is one that might be less obvious: Jeremy Lamb. His career to this point has been enigmatic, to say the least. Once a key piece in the James Harden trade, Lamb now finds himself at the back end of the Thunder roster, leaving in his wake not three-pointers, but DNP-CDs.
But as Donovan sets up shop in Oklahoma City, the player who many thought was finished with the Thunder now has a second chance at redemption.
Scott Brooks and Lamb were, by all observable accounts, finished. Had Brooks remained the Thunder coach, I wouldn't have been shocked to see Lamb traded for the rights to an overseas player whose name I would be unable to pronounce, or a second round pick or two.
The Thunder all but know what they have with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. Almost any coach with college/NBA experience could come in and be successful coaching this trio. I would even venture to say that I, or most any other fan, could win a few games with these three.
What the team doesn't know is what they could have with Lamb in a new situation where he could reach his potential with a new coach in Donovan at the helm. I don't pretend to have any idea what went on each and every day over the past season with Lamb and the Thunder, but I do believe that somewhere inside of his inability to smile and lanky 6'5" frame is a player that is more than capable of contributing to the Thunder in a significant way. While I don't ever expect Lamb to be an All-Star, I think he can be about a 10-point per game scorer and a 40% three-point shooter.
Check out these per-40 stats: 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 34.2% on three-pointers and 89.1% on free throws. These numbers belong to Jeremy Lamb. While the overwhelming majority of these stats were in garbage time, there is definitely a guy who can play in there. Lamb turns 23 on May 30th – it isn't time to give up.
Billy Donovan has a chance to bring Lamb off life support. While it will take renewed focus and effort on his part, Thunder fans might actually get a chance to see Lamb smile.