By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
It’s become almost unfair.
The Thunder, with its abundance of talent, continues to stick skillful youngsters in the D-League, utilizing the NBA’s minor league program as a way to keep future gems from rotting away on the bench.
It’s an understandable tactic. The minutes aren’t there in Oklahoma City. So send them to Tulsa, get them some minutes and bring them back confident and fresh.
But in the middle of that developmental circle, which the Thunder have continually worn out this season, is an innocent group of hoopsters who are suffering the collateral damage.
D-League defenders. They’re getting abused. By Reggie Jackson, Daniel Orton, Perry Jones, DeAndre Liggins and, most recently, Jeremy Lamb.
Jackson and Lamb, in particular, have torched them. Last month, before he hijacked the Thunder’s backup point guard spot from Eric Maynor, Jackson lit up the Canton Charge and Iowa Energy (don’t you love those team names) for an average of 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, winning the league’s player of the week award.
On Tuesday night, Lamb matched those gaudy numbers, exploding for 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against that same Iowa Energy team. He looked smooth and confident throughout, firing in effortless jumpers to go around with an all-around game that looks NBA-ready.
For the impressive show, check the highlights above (and, yes, that is Daniel Orton drilling a three at the 2:21 mark).
Will Lamb, like Jackson, soon get a shot in the league? We’ll see. It’ll be tough to break the Thunder’s clogged rotation. But sans Kevin Martin, OKC’s second unit has been offensively challenged of late and that smooth looking jumper could provide a spark.
But until then, the D-League abuse will likely continue.