Jeremy Lamb has only been in the NBA for three years, and yet his career already feels like it's been decided. This is of course a factor of how there's an expectation for immediate results from NBA players these days, but it's also due to him never quite reaching his potential on a stacked Oklahoma City team. Now Lamb finds himself in Charlotte. Not the result of the Hornets trying to gather assets on the way to a championship run, but as a low risk high reward kind of player. They didn't bring in Lamb with the expectations for him to fix their issues with 3-point shooting, or to rely on him in any way. He's merely a player that they're going to see if a change of scenery can help him.
Doesn't all of this sound a bit odd? Shouldn't a player in year three of his career, with so much potential as a shooter, be someone that has Hornets fans excited? Instead, Lamb finds himself as the alternative to receiving nothing for Matt Barnes contract. That's what his career has become.
Luckily for Lamb, he's in the perfect place to finally turn around a career that has so far been disappointing. He brings a skill to the Hornets that the team is in need of, and he comes in with absolutely no expectations which is just fine on a team with fairly low expectations themselves. No longer will he be yanked for a stretch of bad play that aren't up to the championship expectations in OKC. The Hornets just want to get above .500, let alone make a title run. They should be willing to be patient, and bad games won't usually lead to a loss of playing time.
That said, Lamb still has to earn his minutes, and he will surely be looking to revive his young career in Charlotte. Dubbed a 3-point shooter, his career percentage of 34 percent from deep is not quite good enough. It's not a bad percentage, but a specialist should really be hitting a minimum of 36 percent. Of course, the Hornets will take whatever they can get at this point after finishing dead last in 3-point percentage last season.
On top of this, Lamb will need to improve in other areas to show the NBA that his potential is for real. A 6-foot-11 wingspan says that he should be a much better defender than he has shown so far in the NBA, but most of all he'll need to improve his shot selection.
As Lamb's shot chart shows, he takes way too many shots in the long 2-pointer range compared to his shots near the rim where he is a much more efficient scorer. If he can reverse those numbers, or even better take those shots and move them near the rim, then his efficiency as a scorer should skyrocket. As for now, defenders are merely chasing Lamb off the 3-point line and letting him take the inefficient long two, and he's suffering because of it.
However, there is hope here, and that's the system that Lamb played in with Oklahoma City. Under Scott Brooks, Lamb was heavily reliant on players like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant creating open shots for him. High volume shooting from those two led to offense for everybody else. Brooks basic offense left role players like Lamb out to dry, and this might explain why he has so many midrange jumpshots. Those are all the times Westbrook or Durant weren't able to create a shot for Lamb. Is this actually the case? Hard to say without watching every shot he took this season, but it's a safe bet that it was a factor.
So the Hornets have a wing that needs to be better on defense to get on the floor, and his best use on offense is that he's decent at scoring on the two most efficient parts of the floor. Does this sound familiar to anybody else? It should, because that sounds just like former surprise sensation from the 2013 playoff run, Chris Douglas-Roberts. While in Charlotte, CDR did more than provide a funky haircut. His role with the team was purely 3-and-D, and he only shot in two areas.
(Via NBA Stats media site)
Douglas-Roberts shot chart is exactly how the Hornets want to use Lamb. Keep him on the perimeter bombing 3-pointers, and if he has to go inside make sure it's right at the rim. Lamb might have the reputation of a sniper, but his long arms allow him to be one of the better rim finishers in the NBA. He just has to prove that he can do it on a consistent basis.
Lamb has a great opportunity in Charlotte. He's playing for a team that has a need for his skills, and a coach that has already made good good use of a player like him in the past. Like CDR, Lamb is entering with absolutely no expectations to be great. He could very easily come in to Charlotte, not play well, sit on the bench, and eventually let his contract expire. Or, he could revive a career that has so far been very disappointing. He apparently has the skillset. He just needs to prove that he can use it.