Looking at him, he seems to be a perfect NBA player. Great form on his jump shot, athletic, 6'5". Jeremy Lamb is a scout's dream, that's why he was drafted in the lottery by the Houston Rockets and was a key piece in the James Harden trade. Expectations on Lamb have been high, but entering his third season, he isn't the player everyone hoped he'd be.
In 78 games off the bench last season, Lamb averaged 8.5 PPG, shooting 43% from the field and 36% on three pointers. In a system that revolves around the league MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Lamb is not asked to be a creative player with the ball. His role is to help space the floor, knock down open 3s and run the floor. Throughout the regular season, Lamb proved to be tentative and inconsistent with his shot. He averaged just 19.7 minutes per game, and that dropped to just 9.1 minutes per game in the playoffs.
Looking at the Thunder roster for the coming season, there is a void for at the shooting guard position for Lamb to fill. With Thabo Sefolosha signing in Atlanta, a starting position is opened up. Lamb, 22, should be in line to get the job, if he has a strong showing at Summer League. However, Lamb has struggled in three games. He shot 16-49 from the field and 4-22 on three pointers, good for 32.6% and 18.1% respectively. It is somewhat confusing as to why Lamb struggles to this degree, as he looks the part of an NBA rotation player. Royce Young of Daily Thunder offers a fascinating hypothesis.
"He looks like the kind of player that basketball has always come easy to him. Probably the best player in middle school and high school, at every pickup game he's every played in, and for the most part, in college too. But the NBA isn't so easy for him. And I think that frustrates him. Basketball is supposed to be simpler than this for Lamb."
Year 3 in the NBA is a make or break season for young players. It's time for Jeremy Lamb to step up if he wants to make his name in the league. It will take a better effort than what he's proved at Summer League so far. The UConn faithful will always root for Lamb for his role on the 2011 championship team, but the rest of the NBA will not give him the same sort of respect if doesn't begin to contribute the way a lottery pick should.