Pre All-Star break: A – After struggling throughout camp and the preseason, there was a lingering worry in OKC that Jeremy Lamb wasn’t ready for an expanded role in Year 2. But immediately, he put that concern to bed, scoring 16 points in his second game and shining throughout the first half of the season. He had big games (22 points vs Houston, four important threes at Miami) and noted growth throughout the opening months, rewarding Sam Presti’s offseason trust.
Post All-Star break: D – In his first post All-Star break game, Lamb went 1-of-9 in an abysmal performance against the Heat. It was only a sign of things to come. After scoring double-digits 26 times the first 31/2 months, Lamb only did it four times in the final 21/2. He shot 35 percent in February, 34 percent in March and was out of the rotation by April. An extended fizzle to what had been a breakout season.
Other skills: B – Many of the fringe areas of Lamb’s game remain underrated. With Russell Westbrook out, Lamb was asked to be more of a playmaker. And he delivered, playing a little point guard in brief stretches and dishing out five assists in a few games. He showed a surprising ability and fearlessness in rebounding, most notably during a road win in Minnesota when he had eight boards, including a game-clincher where he flew in, was undercut and faceplanted, but still held on.
On-ball defense: D – During one of the Thunder’s first preseason games, former Nuggets vet Andre Miller planted Lamb in the post and demanded the ball. In less than a minute, Miller dropped in two buckets and Lamb committed three fouls. It was an early indication of what was to come, with Lamb continually exposed all season on the defensive end.
Future outlook: B – The late-season slump and benching is a blemish in what remains an overall productive year. And moving forward, things still look promising. He’s 22 with maybe the purest and most reliable non-Kevin Durant 3-point shot on a team that desperately needs that outside shooting. Lamb needs to improve his defense, shake his occasional lack of confidence and get a lot stronger. But young and talented guys typically get a ton better with opportunity and experience. He’ll get both.