The Oklahoma City Thunder concluded the Orlando Summer League with a perfect 5-0 record.
Despite having the best record in the Western Conference a year ago, the Thunder will need to fill some holes in next year’s roster, mainly replacing Kevin Martin who went to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The player that everyone has their eyes on to replace Martin is Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb was solid in the summer league and, as always, showed glimpses of his potential. He shot under 40 percent from the field for the week but averaged 18.8 points, including a 32-point performance and a game-winner as well.
“With Jeremy, we don’t want to skip steps,” said Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamain, who ran the team in summer league while Brooks and Presti evaluated progress. “We want to take [Lamb] from where we got him to the next step, to the next level, and the level after that. Some of that has to do with his defense, some has to do with his ball handling, some had to do with his decision-making and a lot with his physical ability. We’re working with our guys all summer long, because this is the time to get better.”
Lamb’s lack of playing time in his rookie season was a bit concerning. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and spent more time with the Tulsa 66ers than with the Thunder.
Rumors eventually started swirling about that the Thunder may not be committed to Lamb. They weren’t actually the team who drafted him and maybe the Thunder saw him more as a trade chip more than anything else.
The 2013 draft came and went and Lamb is still in a Thunder uniform. Heading into next season, expectations are for Lamb to take his game to the next level and break into the Thunder rotation.
“I’m not happy or satisfied, so I’m going to just keep working and try to put myself in position to be able to play,” Lamb told Wallace. “Everybody approached it to show off their skills, to put themselves in position to make a rotation. We all thought about this the same way.”
The Thunder, as Wallace points out in the article, are different from a lot of NBA teams in their commitment to developing their players. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka all went through the summer league as well and that experience paid off for them.
Most recently, development in the summer league paid off for Reggie Jackson, who really took the next step in his game last season.
The hope is that Lamb will do the same and be the next Thunder player to follow in these footsteps.
The track record of developing players is promising for the future of the Thunder. But now, more than ever, the Thunder are in need for that development to pay off immediately.