He's still raw, but Jeremy Lamb will eventually become a valuable tool for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After a shocking preseason trade sent Lamb and other pieces to the Oklahoma Thunder in exchange for NBA Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, the Thunder in turn acquired two viable scoring options, Kevin Martin and young scoring prospect Jeremy Lamb.
Although he is still extremely raw, Lamb has demonstrated in college that he has the potential to play at a high level, and very few in the draft have the same assets Lamb possesses as far as scoring ability is concerned.
Let’s further examine why Jeremy Lamb could become the NBA’s next scoring extraordinaire.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Martin, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant: All of them are scorers and all of them share a common bond—their sound fundamental abilities.
Jeremy Lamb, like the aforementioned NBA scorers, has these same abilities. In college, Lamb had an innate sense for when he should curl to the rim, when he should go north-south rather than over dribble and a silky smooth jumper that rained down shots from the perimeter. Many have compared his game to Kevin Martin—another adept scoring guard who uses his savvy and natural skill to score rather than brute force or athleticism.
The great thing about a player like Lamb is that considering he already has great fundamental ability, those muscle-memorized abilities won’t fade away with age like vertical jumping and lateral quickness.
He was never a phenomenal passer in college, (he averaged little under two assists per game his whole college career) but he still had a high IQ as far as scoring was concerned. He knows how to read the opponent's defenses, and despite receiving virtually no playing time (he’s getting about three minutes per game as a member of the Thunder), he’ll definitely get his shot to prove why he had no trouble scoring at will back in his college days.
On every basketball team, whether it’s a pick-up game at the gym or the NBA Finals, you need at least one pure scorer somewhere on the squad. For the Thunder, Jeremy Lamb could very well become another pure scorer for them in the future.
Similar to Kevin Martin’s current role, Jeremy Lamb could be relied upon to provide a spark off the bench. Lamb isn’t necessarily going out to make his teammates better, but he is definitely not going to be bashful about chucking up a lot of shots. Although this type of behavior is often criticized as ball hogging, the Thunder should come to embrace his willingness to score the ball.
After losing James Harden, there is certainly a void in this new-look Thunder team. Off the bench, Harden not only scored the ball effectively, but the entire offense ran through him. He was a catalyst for not only his success, but the success of his teammates as well.
There is no way that Lamb will magically become an incredible playmaker overnight, but with his mindset, he won’t need to play like that. Like Harden, he has a certain fearlessness and desire to get buckets, and when his role does eventually materialize, he’ll bring that mentality to the NBA without a doubt.
Besides the acquired skill set and natural mentality, being a great NBA scorer involves having a couple physical gifts as well.
At the NBA Draft Combine, Lamb’s maximum vertical was 38 inches. This is an impressive mark when you consider his fundamentally sound game. Combine his near-40 inch vert with a 6’5" frame and seven-foot wing span, and you have a potentially lethal scoring machine on your hands. Possessing a long wingspan and impressive vertical are one of the reasons Lamb is able to get his shots off so effectively. When Lamb was chased off screens, even if a defender managed to contest, Lamb’s length and verticality allowed him to elevate and knockdown shots even with contact or duress.
The main knock on Lamb physically, however, concerns his weight. As of when he was drafted, Lamb was about 179 pounds. This is much too light for someone of his height, and considering he isn’t a particularly speedy or quick player, he isn’t going to make up for his lack of strength when he attempts to score against bigger guards. Lamb can certainly get away with this because of his solid stroke from beyond the arc and his array of short-range floaters, but he’s certainly a bit too raw at this point.
But when he does eventually pack on some muscle, he could become a fearsome slasher at the NBA level, and thanks to his solid perimeter game, he would certainly become a legitimate inside-outside scorer.
Mentally and fundamentally, Lamb has all the tools needed to become an elite scorer, but at this point in time, Lamb has ways to go before we crown him a legitimate pro scoring option.