A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why I believe Jeremy Lamb will be a superstar

with 3 comments

Jeremy Lamb Dribble

Jeremy Lamb Dribble (Photo credit: American Odyssey)

The James Harden to Houston trade fascinated me, because as I wrote at the time, I felt both Harden and Jeremy Lamb had outright superstar potential. I realize I’ve never written a longer explanation of why I’m so high on Lamb, ranking him neck and neck with Anthony Davis in last year’s draft.

For one, Lamb’s feel for the game isn’t just good or great, it’s incredible. Like one of the best in the league incredible. He’s among the most supernaturally smooth and natural offensive players in years, drawing Tracy McGrady comparisons for just how easy it looks for him.

I see his skill impact upside as nearly unlimited. He has deep range with a jumpshot that simply looks perfect, excelling in college both spot up and off the dribble from 3. In the D League he’s shot an impressive 36% from 3 considering he’s adjusting to a longer line. Scarily, he’s at a 90% clip from the FT line (63 for 70 attempts). FT shooters in the 85 to 90% range if he stays there, are often the league’s elite shooters. Lamb may not be a guarantee to be among the league’s best perimeter skill players and shooters, but his potential in the area is as good as it gets.

Finally, Lamb has considerable upside as a slasher. He has an explosive first step, which when combined with elite ballhandling makes him more than able to get to the basket. He also has excellent size for a wing and amazing length, helping him finish and giving him huge defensive potential.

Adding it all together, Lamb has a terrifying combination of talents. My talent grades for him is 11 in feel for the game, 9 or 10 in skill impact and 8 or 9 in physical impact. That leads to a total of 28-30, when 24 or 25 is enough for me to call a player a perennial all-star talent. Lamb’s score is in the mix with Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis among recent Hall of Fame caliber talents.

Furthermore, I’m shocked there isn’t more people that can just “see it” with Lamb. The guy overwhelmingly passes the eye test for a future star wing. Take this clip of a D League game:


It’s all there. The shooting, the ballhandling, the ability to get where-ever he wants on the court and of course, the “on a different level” feel and smoothness to his offense. To be blunt, obvious star talent is obvious.

In my mind the only thing that can hold Jeremy Lamb back is himself, as a player flagged for motor inconsistency for years. But Lamb is so talented that even if he has “the T-mac gene”, I expect him to produce well in the category of stardom.

The Thunder getting this guy is scary. I wrote an article earlier today about how the Thunder are sitting on a top 10 point differential of all time and what it means for their title chances – if that’s where they are right now, now imagine adding a shooting guard talent in the realm of an Irving or Davis to that core, a player who happens to fit the team perfectly stylistically with his shooting and floor spacing. The closest comparable may be the Lakers getting to add the 1982 #1 overall pick James Worthy to a squad with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar already on it.

Prepare for doom.

Written by jr.

March 12, 2013 at 3:20 am

3 Responses

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  1. After watching him play in summer league, I was as high on Lamb as you are now. I also saw similarities to T-Mac. But then preseason games happened, and none of it translated. He was painfully passive. He had no first step, couldn’t get by anyone, and at times didn’t even bother to try. In a preseason game against Dallas, he looked really small matched up against Dominique Jones. He also had a layup attempt badly rejected by Jared Cunningham, whose standing reach is a mere 8′ 2″.

    It wasn’t just that one game; it was the entire preseason. For the most part, he looked lost. I’m not sure what the reason was. He did injure his leg at one point in the preseason, so maybe that was a factor. Maybe another factor was trying to integrate himself into the offensive system. Maybe he found out that NBA players are bigger, longer, and faster than what he was used to? I don’t know what it was.

    I stopped following him after that. Maybe he’s improved since then? He is young, and he has a supportive dad that pushes him, so I guess anything is possible…

    Rajan Patel

    March 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    • I’ve watched him in D League some. I notice what you say about not being able to get past anyone. He never seems to beat hims man off the dribble which is odd considering he’s facing D League defenders. Most of his points are off long jumpers or put backs around the rim.

      Erin K.

      March 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm

  2. I hope you are right about Lamb but I wonder if he’s ever going to get to play. It’ll be interesting to see how next season pans out. A young player, even a good young player has got to get a chance to establish a rhythm without being benched into oblivion.

    Erin K.

    March 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

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