The Oklahoma City Thunder were perennial NBA title contenders with the big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. When it came time to have to pay Harden, the Thunder thought it would be more beneficial for the long-term stability of their team to pay Serge Ibaka instead. They traded Harden to the Houston Rockets, and among other things, they received two potential replacements for Harden’s role in Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb.
Last year it was Martin who got the call and Lamb who sat on the bench. Martin was very inconsistent at times, and the Thunder had enough faith in Lamb to let Martin go via free agency. Now Jeremy Lamb is forced to step up in the role of sixth man. He should be used as the go-to scorer off the bench, although he will never be what James Harden was to this franchise.
So far the results for Lamb haven’t been bad. He is averaging 9.3 points on 46.2 percent shooting. He has struggled with the long ball only going 25 percent thus far, but that will come around with time.
I actually think the Thunder need to rely more on Lamb to be successful throughout the course of the year. He is playing only 18 minutes a game so far, and I think that number should be closer to 30. When you get minimal production out of your starting shooting guard (6.7 points per game from Thabo Sefolosha) and your only other bench scorer is Reggie Jackson, Lamb deserves a bigger role.
In crunch time teams will be honed in on Durant and Westbrook, and they need someone out there to space the floor and hit open shots. That’s where Lamb will succeed in this offense. Again, not to the extent of James Harden, but Lamb will do enough for this team to keep them successful in the postseason.