The biggest criticism that people have tossed around regarding the Oklahoma City Thunder lately is their lack of activity this off-season, especially considering the loss of sixth man Kevin Martin. However, a lot of their inactivity has been due to the fact that they have faith in Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to combine to play the Martin, James Harden role off of the bench.
Jackson proved to be a potentially special reserve guard in the 2013 NBA Playoffs this past year when he was thrust into the starting role after the Russell Westbrook injury. He had some struggles, but as a young player he showed that he will almost surely have success in this league. Lamb, however, has a much more uncertain future.
As a rookie last season, coming to OKC in the Harden trade along with Martin, Lamb didn’t have much of a role with the Thunder. He played in just 23 games and played only 6.4 minutes per game. In that limited time, he averaged 3.1 points and 0.8 rebounds, but shot only 35.3 percent from the floor and just 30 percent from three.
In the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, Lamb had a great deal more success in a substantially larger role. In 21 games he averaged 21 points, 5.3 rebounds, three assists and 1.2 steals in 32.8 minutes per game while shooting a solid 49 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from long-distance.
Lamb put up gaudy numbers at the Orlando Summer League this year, as well, but with far worse efficiency, as is often the case at Summer League. In four games, he averaged 18.8 points, four rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 31.5 minutes per game, but shot just 39.1 percent from the field and just 37.3 percent from three.
If the Thunder indeed try to rely on Lamb this season, it could be a rough transition for him. There’s no doubt that he has the physical tools, but he has yet to really develop the awareness, IQ and decision-making to be successful at this level. Eventually he could be the sixth man that the Thunder would like for him to be, but it’s hard to imagine that being fully realized this season.
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