The 2012 NBA Draft saw the Rockets select Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick, but that was before a huge opportunity was basically dropped into their lap.
The Thunder tried as hard as they could, but just could not draw up a suitable contract for James Harden. “Fear the beard” was beginning to take off, as the Thunder were fresh off of their lone NBA Finals appearance, with Harden rounding out their “Big 3″. And at the end of the day, Harden simply wanted more than just a max contract. He wanted to be a starter, and had honestly earned the opportunity whether any Thunder fan cared to admit it or not.
On October 27th of that year, a mere 3 days before the start of the regular season, Lamb received the news that he and Kevin Martin were being sent to Oklahoma City along with two 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick. They quickly learned why, as the Thunder were sending not only Harden, but Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich, and Lazar Hayward to Houston to acquire their services.
The Thunder fanatic saw the true potential in Lamb last season, where he exploded for points in several games. However, his inconsistent scoring is a large part of why he doesn’t see even more minutes than he does currently. Although Lamb got his chance to shine last week in Orlando, as he was expected to be the standout performer for the Thunder.
Much like Steven Adams, Lamb only started in 3 of the 5 Summer League games, as I’m sure the Thunder brass were trying to keep both players as healthy as possible for offseason workouts. So did Lamb become the MVP that most analysts predicted he would be in Orlando? Let’s take a look at the totals and determine the results.
Grizzlies: In 30:20, he scored 14 points off of a rough 4-for-12 (33.3%) shooting day that included a horrendous 1-for-7 (14.3%) from beyond the arc. He did shoot a nice 5-for-6 (83.3%) from the free throw line, while adding 5 rebounds (1 off., 4 def.) and 2 blocks. Although he did end with 2 personal fouls, saw a shot blocked, and put up a brutal assist-to-turnover ratio (2 assists to 4 turnovers).
76ers: He did not play, as he was one of four players given the day off.
Nets: In 35:25, he led all scorers to take the floor with 26 points off of a so-so 8-for-21 (38.1%) shooting performance that included a rough 2-for-7 (28.6%) from downtown. He made his usual money at the line at least, going 8-for-9 (88.9%), while posting a beautiful assist-to-turnover ratio (3 assists to just 1 turnover). He also snagged 8 rebounds (2 off., 6 def.) and 3 steals, but he racked up the same 2 personal fouls and block against as well.
Pacers: In 28:28, he scored 12 points off of a dismal 4-for-17 (23.5%) shooting performance that included a gut-wrenching 1-for-9 (11.1%) from long range. He also slumped at the line, going 3-for-5 (60%). At least his assist-to-turnover ratio was decent (2 assists to just 1 turnover), as he added 3 rebounds (1 off., 2 def.) and a steal, while only logging 1 personal foul.
Heat: He did not play, as he was one of two players given the day off.
Totals: In 94 minutes and 13 seconds, or roughly 31 minutes a game, his per-game averages are as follows: 17.3 points off of 32% shooting, including 17.4% from 3-point range. 80% free throw shooter, 2.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds (1.3 off., 4 def.), 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.7 personal fouls, 2 turnovers, and 0.7 blocks against.
Simply put, Lamb failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed on him heading into Orlando. Maybe it was the amount of pressure he was under to put on a good performance. The Nets game showed that Lamb can turn into a scoring machine when he begins to feel it, but it took 21 shots from the field, and an additional 9 from the free throw line for Lamb to achieve his 26-point total. One can only begin to imagine the scoring total Lamb could have produced if he were shooting 40+% from the field, and 30+% from downtown in that game.
Conversely, the Pacers game showed us just what happens when Lamb begins to feel the pressure to perform. He certainly didn’t respond well in that contest. The thing is, the NBA is a pressure-packed league. Those who can’t perform under pressure need not apply.
Hopefully Lamb can build up his consistency during the offseason. I was assuming that he would be the new 6th man, with Reggie Jackson sliding into the 2 spot until the Thunder signed Anthony Morrow out of free agency. Now, to be honest, it looks as though the starting 2 spot is Morrow’s to lose. Unfortunately, Lamb will find himself buried in the Thunder depth chart once again this year. His ability to catch fire in short bursts will guarantee that Lamb gets at least decent playing time off of the bench, but he still has a little ways to go if a starting spot is his ultimate goal. He has the talent. Now it’s up to him to properly refine it.