Jeremy Lamb is familiar with the play of Kemba Walker. The duo were the two leading scorers on the 2010-2011 UConn National Championship team.
Times have certainly changed, and since being drafted 12th overall by the Houston Rockets Lamb has yet to find that same kind of success in the NBA. Last year, Lamb struggled to solidify his standing in the Thunder's rotation and lost his minutes to players like Anthony Morrow, Dion Waiters, and Reggie Jackson. All in all, Lamb saw his minutes fall from 15.6 minutes per game to 7.3 minutes per game after the All-Star game. He will face the same kind of competition for minutes this season with the likes of Nicolas Batum, P.J. Hairston, Jeremy Lin, and Aaron Harrison. He will need to show that he can be a consistent NBA rotation player.
Let's dive in to how Lamb can accomplish this.
Lamb needs to improve his outside shooting, among other things
After All-Star Weekend, Lamb shot 21.1 percent from behind the 3-point line in seven games. While seven games is not a large sample, it is still troubling for Lamb. He ended the year shooting 34.2 percent from 3-point land, which is right around the league average.
The catch-and-shoot 3 looks to be a bigger part of the team's offense due to the importance placed on floor spacing this season. Last year, Lamb shot 32.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s, and they made up the majority of his 3-point attempts. Lamb took far fewer pull-up 3s, but hit them at a solid 40.5 percent rate. He took many of his 3s immediately after receiving the ball (29.6 percent of his 3s taken after zero dribbles), and only shot those at 31.1 percent. Below is Jeremy Lamb's shot chart from the 2014-2015.
This chart is particularly troubling. Lamb was an efficient 3-point shooter only at the top of of the arc. He needs to improve on corner 3s, especially as Steve Clifford's offense hopes to see more of them this year.
The key to Lamb's on-court success will be based on shooting, but he also needs to improve his defense. While he certainly isn't a bad defender, he should be able to use his athleticism and long arms to make life tougher on opponents. He can use those same long arms to grab more rebounds, too.
Put simply, Lamb needs to become a more consistent player.
While Charlotte is a fresh start for Lamb, he'll immediately be in competition for minutes with Hairston, Batum, and Lin. If Lamb can hit shots consistently and improve his all-around game, he could become the first player off the bench on the wing. That said, Hairston could take most of those minutes if Lamb falls behind. Lamb can be a solid role player for this team if all goes well, and at only 23 years old, he's sure to improve. As is the case in most contract years, Lamb might play harder this year considering he's playing for a new contract or extension from the Hornets.
Hopefully, he'll show consistency and prove he deserves to not only be in the NBA, but in a bigger role.