The Oklahoma City Thunder landed No. 12 overall pick Jeremy Lamb in the monster trade centered on former OKC shooting guard James Harden. A new start and ample playing opportunities should result in Lamb making an immediate impact with his second NBA team before he's even played an official game.
GM Sam Presti wasn't able to keep Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and recently extended Serge Ibaka all under contract. Durant's deal runs through 2015-16, and Westbrook signed a max extension earlier this year.
That ultimately spelled the end for Harden in Oklahoma City, as Presti could not meet the demand of the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. But there is a silver lining in the form of Lamb.
While veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin will likely get the call off the bench first and serve as the team's sixth man, Lamb should see a role similar to that of Daequan Cook's the past two years. Cook went to the Houston Rockets as another piece of the Harden trade.
The difference between Cook and Lamb, though, is that the highly touted rookie is more than just a spot-up shooter thanks to his incredible athleticism. He can create his own shot, and his 6'11" wingspan brings a lot to the table defensively, where he has a knack for getting his hands active in passing lanes.
As explosive of a scorer as Martin can be, his defense has always been a little bit suspect. The other very relevant factor that could result in more early playing time for Lamb is that Martin has only made it through two full NBA seasons.
That type of vulnerability to injury makes the eight-year veteran a bit of a liability to fill in Harden's role adequately for the entire year. What's nice about Martin, too, is that he is 6'7", which is tall enough to play small forward. There are times where both Martin and Lamb may be on the court at once, and they should have at least some built-in chemistry from their brief time together in Houston.
The Thunder's own first-round pick, Perry Jones III, is incredibly talented in his own right. But his position is small forward, which happens to be occupied by the team's best player in Durant.
While Jones could possibly be slid into the power forward sport in a small lineup scenario, he'll have to compete with Ibaka and Nick Collison for minutes. Lamb can be more easily utilized by head coach Scott Brooks thanks to the personnel the Thunder currently have.
Whether he's playing alongside Westbrook or returning backup point guard Eric Maynor, Lamb will be dangerous in the Thunder's motion offense coming off of curls and driving to the hoop.
Lamb's lanky frame is a bit of a concern, but he has proven to be strong with the basketball when he wants to take it to the rim. Martin could definitely provide words of wisdom, as he weighs under 200 pounds at his towering height and has still managed to perform very well when healthy.
He may not be the sixth man at any point this year, but Lamb has all the tools and potential to make an instant impact with the Thunder in his first season.