Two minutes after entering last Tuesday's game against the Thunder, Nuggets point guard Andre Miller identified a matchup he liked.
His bulky, 6-foot-2, 200-pound body in the post against Jeremy Lamb's 6-foot-5, 185-pound wiry frame.
And over the next three possessions, the heady 15-year NBA veteran proceeded to take OKC's developing second-year two-guard to school.
In a span of 36 seconds on the game clock, Miller posted up Lamb three times. The result: five points and three quick fouls, concluding with an and-1 layup that sent Lamb to the bench.
“People probably will try to post me a little bit, but I'm not worried about it,” Lamb said. “I'm just going to work hard, try to get position, not allow them to catch the ball, little things like that.”
For the Thunder, that part of Lamb's defensive game could become a bit of a concern.
Even in preseason, teams seem set on exploiting his perceived lack of strength. On Sunday, when Lamb was planted on the 230-pound Richard Jefferson, Utah's veteran took him right to the low block.
After a quick pump fake got Lamb up in the air, Jefferson completed a crafty and-1, almost identical to the Miller play less than a week earlier.
“That's probably a pretty common thing among younger players,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They get tested … We're going to see (if he can defend bigger guards down there), because it's definitely going to happen.”
But despite that potential issue moving forward, Lamb is far from a complete defensive liability.
In fact, his insertion into the rotation brings the Thunder an added dimension on that end that they lacked during Kevin Martin's 27.7 minutes per game a year ago.
Lamb is noticeably more athletic and lanky than the departed Martin, consistently using his unteachable 6-foot-11 wingspan and 38-inch vertical to disrupt opposing offenses.
In five preseason games, Lamb has 10 steals and a handful of other tips and deflections. Last season, Martin averaged less than a steal per game.
“I just try to be active, try to get my hands in the passing lane, try to get steals,” Lamb said. “Sometimes I come up with them, sometimes I don't. But I just try to be active.”
In addition, Lamb has four blocks in the preseason, not including an impressive weakside spike on a hook shot from Jazz center Enes Kanter on Sunday, which was wiped out by a late foul call.
In 77 games last season, Martin had eight total blocks.
“We rely on length,” Brooks said. “That's what makes us a very good defensive team. Our positions, we look for that. We like guys using their arms as defense.”
At this point, Brooks admits, it's still far too early to truly assess Lamb's eventual defensive impact. But despite some holes, he likes what he has seen.
“Jeremy is getting better,” Brooks said. “He's not there yet. He's getting better with his hands on the defensive end. But we still have to harp on those finer points … I like what he's doing. It's a great start that he's having defensively.”