The referendum on the James Harden trade continues.
If you watched any of ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, you heard plenty of talk about the nearly year-old deal. Bill Simmons especially prattled on and on about it. How Oklahoma City should've kept Harden. How the Thunder let him go to Houston for nothing.
On the first point, Simmons has apparently forgotten that Young James was the one who ultimately said no to a deal with the Thunder.
And the second point simply isn't true.
The reality is, we still don't know what the Thunder got for Harden — but we're soon to start finding out.
And that starts with Jeremy Lamb.
Sure, everyone is talking now about the players who the Thunder drafted Thursday night, prime among them Steven Adams. The 7-foot New Zealander is an intriguing prospect. Could he be the center of the future? Could he turn into the scoring big man that Thunder fans so crave? Will he make good on the No. 12 selection, a pick acquired from Toronto via Houston in the Harden deal?
Honestly, the answers to those questions are years away.
But we're much closer to knowing the impact that Lamb will have on this franchise.
The shooting guard had little influence last season, but cut him some slack. He was a rookie who arrived in Oklahoma City as part of the Harden trade right before the start of the season. That meant no offseason workouts, no summer league and no training camp with the Thunder.
Add that to a roster that was stacked, and the equation equaled no playing time.
Lamb saw only mop-up duty with the Thunder and spent much of the season in the D-League with the 66ers.
But if you haven't seen any of Lamb's highlights from those games, do yourself a favor, go to YouTube and check him out. You will like what you see.
Lamb has this sweet jump shot. So pretty. So smooth. And he can get to the hoop and create his own shot.
Against D-League competition, he dominated, averaging 21.0 points a game.
If Lamb can score half that for the Thunder next season, Sam Presti might cartwheel from the practice facility to the arena on Broadway Extension.
The Thunder needs someone to step forward since Kevin Martin is surely on his way out. The team just doesn't have enough room on its payroll for the veteran guard, who was yet another piece of the Harden trade. He was a decent role player, but ultimately, he will leave Oklahoma City without having been that standout third option that many hoped he might be.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still looking for a sidekick.
Could Lamb become that guy?
He clearly has talent, and the Thunder has a fantastic track record of developing youngsters. Durant. Westbrook. Harden. Serge Ibaka. Reggie Jackson. No reason to think Lamb couldn't join the list.
Just how good he can be remains to be seen, though. If he becomes that third option, then clearly the argument that the Thunder got nothing in the Harden deal doesn't hold up. But even if he just becomes a solid contributor off the bench this next season, that would be big.
The Thunder routinely needed more scoring from its second unit last season, so getting an average of eight or 10 points from Lamb, with an occasional 14- or 16-point game thrown in there, would be significant. That would not only help the team but would also signify that Lamb has grown and matured and might just be on his way to becoming something great.
We'll get our next look at him during the Orlando Pro Summer League, which starts July 7. It will continue the referendum on the Harden trade.
As of now, the deal has worked out much better for Houston. No two ways around that. Harden is a budding superstar. But if Lamb can emerge and contribute, it will make the Harden deal look a lot better on this side of the Red River.