ORLANDO — The future flashed before our eyes Sunday, providing a riveting peek into what the Oklahoma City Thunder might someday look like.
Jeremy Lamb was doing something we didn't know he could, running the high screen and roll, orchestrating the offense and taking ownership of his team.
Steven Adams, today just a mystery who locals only hope doesn't become the next Robert Swift, the last center the franchise selected with the 12th overall pick, was a bundle of athleticism, energy and hustle.
Together, they connected on the highlight of the opening day of the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League.
Adams set a pick for Lamb on the right wing, springing Lamb free to squirt into the paint. When his penetration prompted the Indiana defense to collapse, Lamb lobbed a pass to a rolling Adams. He then gathered, leapt and received the pass with only his right hand. In one motion, Adams brought it straight down into the hoop, punctuating the play with a powerful dunk.
There was the future, seen in four swift seconds.
“I liked it,” a near giddy Thunder summer league coach Rex Kalamian later said after his team's 76-68 win. “It showed some athleticism by Steven. And I think we'll see that as we go on.”
Lamb and Adams eventually could comprise two-fifths of the Thunder's starting unit, giving Oklahoma City new blood in the first five perhaps in as soon as two years. It would be an ironic twist seeing as how both players arrived as pieces the Thunder received in the much-maligned trade that sent James Harden to Houston.
While most of us seemingly impatiently wait on that day, the Thunder is tuning out the critics and letting the pieces fall into place.
Sunday was a good first step.
“This is just the start for many of our guys,” Kalamian said. “It's truly a beginning; an introduction to NBA basketball.”
To that end, it's important to remember that Adams, who declared for the draft following his freshman season at Pittsburgh, is only 19. He'll be a teenager for another three weeks. Lamb just made legal drinking age 5 1/2 weeks ago.
Their development will take time, but their presence alone astonishes. They're a walking reminder of Oklahoma City's embarrassment of riches. Lottery teams would love to rebuild around talents like Lamb and Adams. Yet the Thunder, a championship caliber team with perhaps the most decorated roster in the Western Conference, gets to slow play their development.
But judging by that highlight alley-oop connection, a play Lamb said was unscripted, the Thunder won't have to start with a completely blank canvas.
“He's a strong kid,” Lamb said of Adams. “He can really get up and he's tall. So I came off the screen, his man helped and I threw it up and he's a great finisher.”
It was Adams' only two points of the game. He missed his other three shot attempts, providing unnecessary proof that he's a work in progress.
The dish was one of only two assists for Lamb, who added 14 points with six rebounds in 30 minutes. His assist tally, however, didn't do justice to how comfortable Lamb looked running the offense and making plays for others.
For a player regarded mostly for his spot-up shooting ability, Lamb impressed more with his leadership and control, things several coaches in attendance lauded following the game.
“He not only can come off screens and shoot the basketball … but when he has the ball in his hands he's a very unselfish player,” said Kalamian. “So if somebody's open, he's going to find that player that's open.”
Lamb turned it over only twice while running the offense on countless possessions. Not once did he show any signs of being disrupted by his head-to-head matchup with Orlando Johnson, the bigger, stronger second-year Pacers guard.
“I've definitely been working on my defense and pick-and-roll offense,” Lamb said.
The silky smooth stroke was there, too.
Despite officially missing 11 of 16 shots, Lamb connected on two of four 3-pointers. Even the jump shots that missed looked good.
Much like the Thunder's future.