Jeremy Lamb hasn't been as good as advertised.
He's been better.
Acquired as the main piece in the trade that sent James Harden to Houston just before the start of last season, Lamb is quickly coming into his own after a year spent learning the ropes.
He's been effective and efficient in his role as a scoring spark off the bench, and he's showing more potential as an all-around impact player with the passing of each period.
“He made some plays (Sunday) that I thought showed signs of greatness,” said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. “I think he's going to be very special in this league.”
And not strictly as a shooter, which was his best skill coming into the league.
In 34 games, the second-year shooting guard is averaging 10 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 21.2 minutes.
When extrapolated over 36 minutes, or typical starter's playing time, Lamb's production jumps to 17 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals. But those numbers could only scratch the surface.
Entering Tuesday's game at Utah, Lamb had averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, three rebounds and a steal in his last seven games. He's shot 50.8 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from 3-point range and 92.3 percent from the free throw line over that span.
Perhaps most notably is how Lamb has been a threat inside and out.
On 2-pointers, Lamb is shooting 51.7 percent, 13th among shooting guards who have at least 100 attempts. Yet from 3-point range, Lamb is shooting 40.2 percent, ranking ninth among shooting guards with at least 100 attempts.
“He's getting better, and you've got to give him the credit,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He puts the work in. He comes back the next day looking to improve his game every day. That's our focus on all of our guys, and he's done a great job with that.”
The last two games illustrated Lamb's impressive improvement.
Against the Timberwolves on Saturday, he grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, including two pivotal boards in the final two minutes that helped the Thunder escape with a come-from-behind victory.
The next night against Boston, Lamb dished a career-high six assists, orchestrating the offense late in the game as the point guard, running pick and rolls and setting up teammates for scoring opportunities.
“I'm just trying to learn the game, get a feel for it, knowing when to shoot it, when to pass,” Lamb said. “As games go on, I start to get a feel for it. I'm starting to crash the boards and do more things. Every night, your shot's not going to be on so I got to find other ways to impact the game.”
That's exactly what the Thunder seeks.
“He's a guy that we want to keep improving in a lot of different areas,” Brooks said. “We don't want him just to be a shooter. We want him to be a player.”
So far so good.
“He can do it all,” said Kevin Durant. “I mean, he's athletic. He can shoot. He can dribble. But I like his intensity. I like his focus and his hard work. With all that, anything can be done on the court by him. So we just need him to keep getting better.”