At the beginning of the season, it was evident that the Oklahoma City Thunder would need some extra help off the bench, as Russell Westbrook began the year sidelined with an injury. With more minutes available due to Westbrook’s absence, the Thunder gave Jeremy Lamb the opportunity to step in and prove himself. As the Thunder’s primary option off the bench, Lamb started off the season in an impressive manner, putting himself in position to take over as the starting shooting guard one day.
As the season went on, the Thunder and Lamb continued to click. Although, those days would soon end after Lamb’s production lessened in the month of February. As his play continued to slide, his minutes would ultimately suffer as well. When Westbrook returned to the Thunder’s lineup, Lamb’s role on the team had practically become non-existent. After starting the season off on the right path, Lamb took a wrong turn somewhere as the Thunder also hit a roadblock of their own. On Feb. 11, Lamb scored 11 points, which still stands as his last game scoring in double figures.
Since then, Lamb has failed to score over seven points on any night, and most of his minutes have come in garbage time for the Thunder. After seeing close to 20 minutes on the court for a good portion of the first half of the season, he is only averaging a little over 12 minutes through six games in March. He played 24 minutes on March 2, scoring seven points in a game where the Thunder would go on to crush the Charlotte Bobcats. Over the Thunder’s last two wins, Lamb has scored a total of two points in 10 minutes of play.
In order to have a chance to be successful as the playoffs near, the Thunder signed Caron Butler to make up for Lamb’s poor play. Thankfully, Butler has transitioned well, making Lamb just another player at the end of the bench. Unfortunately, for Lamb and his fans, his development into a valuable piece of the Thunder’s roster is on hold until the team has a reason to believe that he is a player who can consistently contribute to the team’s success. The flashes of greatness he showed earlier in the season proves that he has the right tools to become more than just another average player in the NBA.
Whether it is next year, or the year after, the Thunder will call on Lamb to be there when they need him. Over the next few months, Lamb has the opportunity to sit back and learn from the mistakes that landed him in the position he is in now. With great teammates to learn from, and behind the coaching of Scott Brooks, I believe his time on the bench will be very beneficial to his growth as both a player and a person. The Lamb experiment may have come to a temporary halt, but his skill set and determination to be a great player will drive him back into the spotlight when the time is right.