The Oklahoman's staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Jeremy Lamb
1. Jeremy Lamb's second NBA season was ____________.
Darnell Mayberry (beat writer) – Promising. He played 1,500 minutes and showed signs of being the shooter we thought he would be. His athleticism also proved to be a valuable addition in so many ways. And he appears to be capable of providing so much more: rebounding, playmaking, steals, speed and finishing ability on the break. I love what I saw out of Lamb. His future is bright.
Anthony Slater (beat writer) – Productive, but a bit incomplete. When he was dropping 22 on the Rockets in December or 18 during a big win in Miami in late January, it seemed as if Lamb had solidified himself as a steady contributor, on his way to 30-minute a night production. But a slump knocked him out of the rotation and a postseason that included eight DNPs simmered expectations a bit. Solid second season, but still plenty for Lamb to prove.
Berry Tramel (columnist) – Encouraging. Into February, Lamb was averaging 10 points a game. His production curtailed, and then his playing time disappeared when the Thunder added Caron Butler. But Lamb showed a lot of promise through much of the season. And he's only 21. That's the best thing. He's got a lot of room for growth. Lamb's defense needs a lot of work, but he's got the tools to get better.
2. Should he have seen more court time in the postseason?
Mayberry – Hard to make that argument after the way he slumped in the second half of the season and then fell out of the rotation when Caron Butler arrived. He probably wasn't ready. But we'll never know. I think Brooks made the smart play in going with the veterans over Lamb. Their performances just didn't pay off.
Slater – Yeah, but he was a victim of Caron Butler’s late season success. After signing with OKC in early March, Butler averaged 10 points and shot 44 percent from three in the final 22 games. He was hot, so Scott Brooks rode that into the postseason. But it backfired. Butler crashed back to Earth and Lamb, out of rhythm even when pulled from deep freeze, wasn’t able to have much of an impact. Would have been interesting to see what Lamb could have done with 20-plus minutes a night.
Tramel – Turns out, yes. No one could blame Scotty Brooks for playing Butler in the postseason. But Butler didn't prove to be a difference-maker in the playoffs. He averaged 23 minutes, 6.3 points and 32 percent shooting. Lamb could have done that and would have built up some much-needed playoff experience.
3. True or false: Jeremy Lamb averages 25-plus minutes next season.
Mayberry – True. He was at 22 per game before the All-Star break. Some of that had to do with the absence of Russell Westbrook, but he'll get even more opportunities next year. Three guys who were ahead of him in the rotation – Butler, Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha – all figure to be gone next season. That's going to open up significantly more playing time for Lamb. And I think he'll be even more deserving of minutes by taking a big jump in his third season.
Slater – I’m going true, and I’ll take it a step further. I think Lamb will be the starting shooting guard on opening night. That obviously changes if the Thunder trades for a veteran like Arron Afflalo (which would be a great move). But Sam Presti is fond of Lamb. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Presti constructs a roster that involuntarily nudges Brooks to use Lamb as a starter.
Tramel – 25 minutes? No way. That's too much. Even if Lamb becomes the sixth man, which is possible but unlikely, I don't see 25 minutes. Twenty, yes. But not 25. It's most likely that Lamb is the seventh man, which he was for much of this season. That would put him around 20 minutes a game.