When you think about the Oklahoma City Thunder, both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant come to mind. They are two superstars, but they are not able to take on the Western Conference by themselves. There are players that will need to step up this season for the Thunder to reach their goals, but no one has to step up more than second-year guard Jeremy Lamb.
The Thunder traded their former star sixth man James Harden to the Houston Rockets last season in a package that included Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb. Martin was their key scorer off the bench last season, and stepped up to fill the hole left by Harden very well. Obviously he wasn’t able to fill it perfectly, but his scoring ability certainly was dangerous for opponents off the bench. This year, the other key piece in that trade will have to step up.
Kevin Martin was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves this past off-season, and that leaves the very talented Jeremy Lamb to step into Martin’s role from last season. Lamb was drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, and many scouts and analysts believe that he has a very bright NBA career ahead of him. He played very sparingly for the Thunder last season, averaging just 3.1 points per game in those limited minutes. During his last year at UConn, his sophomore season, he averaged 17.7 points, which shows you that he has great scoring ability.
Lamb stands at 6’5″ with very length arms and very good athleticism. He has the potential to become a double-figure scorer off the bench this season, and also a lock-down defender should he decide to work hard on that facet of his game as well. The Thunder will be relying on a second-year player who hasn’t seen much NBA playing time to be perhaps their key off the bench.
Jeremy Lamb does have a few things that he needs to work on in particular to get ready for his new role. His outside shooting must improve, and he must be consistent. Both James Harden and Kevin Martin were deadly three-point shooters, and while Lamb can shoot the basketball, he certainly hasn’t been known as a “deadly” three-point shooter to this point in his career. He’s been working hard on that area this off-season, and he showed good improvement in the Orlando Summer League, but playing against NBA competition is much more difficult than Summer League play.
Overall, you can expect Lamb to step up and perform at an acceptable level. There are definite reasons to be concerned, but only time will tell if Jeremy Lamb is able to shoulder the load that will be asked of him. Another bit of pressure to put on Lamb is that he is the one piece of the James Harden trade has the potential to step up in a big way for the Thunder long-term. Fans are expecting big things out of him this year, and that will put a load of pressure in and of itself. He’ll be a very intriguing player to keep an eye on this season, and is most definitely the X-Factor for the 2013 Oklahoma City Thunder.