Entering his seventh season in the NBA, Jeremy Lamb finally looks ready to transcend his game to the next level. Lamb seems ready to take on the role as the Hornets starting shooting guard, in what could be a very pivotal year for the young guard.
Lamb is coming off his best season yet as a pro. Looking at the numbers doesn’t wow you at first. Lamb averaged 12.9 points, 2.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Not incredibly flashy, but serviceable for a backup guard that spent a lot of time in former head coach Steve Clifford’s dog house. But in the 18 games Lamb started in last season, he averaged roughly 15.6 points per game, a small yet significant jump and a sign of hope of what’s to come.
Now taking on a bigger role, look for Lamb’s point totals to take a big jump this year. According to basketball-reference.com, Lamb is projected to total 18.8 points, 3.1 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game. This would be a major leap for Lamb, a leap that could be the difference in the Hornets winning or losing games and potentially sneaking their way into the playoffs.
This also happens to be the final year of his contract, and the new front office is going to be keeping a very close eye on him. I would expect this to show in his play. He may at times (we have seen this in the past) play with a high confidence, taking shots he probably shouldn’t take.
It should be a shock to no one by now that the Hornets are definitely in a win-now mindset. What that means exactly is still a bit unclear. Our best bet is to assume they want to be competitive in the Eastern Conference and potentially make the playoffs. This pretty much means just about everyone on the roster is available for trade. The most sensible biggest piece in a trade that could come out of Charlotte (that doesn’t include Kemba Walker) will probably center around Jeremy Lamb.
At the moment, there’s no way the Hornets can possibly retain Lamb at the end of the season. Fellow At the Hive writer, Dylan Jackson, touched on this in his post about the Hornets cap situation. Basically, if Lamb over performs and does average 18 points per game, Charlotte doesn’t have the funds to re-sign him and other key pieces who are also looking to be re-signed. Unfortunately, someone has to go. If he doesn’t play as well and shows little to no growth, he will more than likely leave to chase a bigger contract that we may not want to or be able to offer him.
So with that said, I would surprised to see him on this team at the end of the season, especially if the team is under performing. The Hornets seem to have their future starter at shooting guard in Malik Monk, it’s just a matter of when he will take the reigns over, if that happens at any point this season, Lamb may very well be gone shortly after. Assuming James Borrego and the staff think they can replace his scoring, whether it be from Malik Monk, potential rookie star Miles Bridges, or via trade, Lamb will more than likely end this season on another team.
This isn’t a bad thing, I love Lamb, and think he’s a great player. I have been driving the Lamb bandwagon since his Oklahoma City days when he didn’t even play. To see him go will probably hurt me a little bit, but at this point I have accepted this reality. It would make sense for the team to attempt to acquire assets that can help us achieve long term goals instead of having one strong season at letting him walk for nothing.
For now, we root for Lamb to have the best season he’s had so far in his short career. He has grown each year he has been in the NBA and he’s ready to cement his place on a NBA roster.