The Jeremy Lamb Report
A standout freshman season put Jeremy Lamb on the NBA radar as a potential lottery talent. As a freshman Lamb scored in double figures every game during a tough Big East Tournament and throughout the NCAA Tournament on his way to becoming a key member of the National Champions.
Last season he was not required to be a leader, just a scorer and shot maker to take some pressure off of then leader Kemba Walker. This past summer Lamb was a part of Team USA Under 19 in Riga, Latvia where he had the opportunity to become more of a leader. That team failed to place in Riga (finishing 5th) due to, a surprise; lack of leadership.
The lack of true leadership has been the missing link for Lamb taking the leap with his Top 10 talent to becoming as good as he can be, a consensus Top 10 pick. He has now played 62 total Division I games (as of Monday, February 6th) and another nine overseas. He is not inexperienced, but Lamb has been a part of teams for the better part of his amateur career and is now being asked to lead and score at the same time this year.
Lamb has the tools to eventually have his skills meet the expectations. Leadership is an intangible that not all have, or need to be successful.
Athletically Lamb is more of a smooth glider that moved effortlessly on the court. He is a 6-5 185 lbs. wing capable of playing multiple positions. He does not however have the strength right now to play with power or defend the more versatile, strong wings out there. He uses his length to set things up on both ends of the court. His length and smooth nature make him a two way talent on the basketball court.
Not all athletes need to be blazing fast or ferociously powerful.
On offense Lamb’s game is setup on the duel threat of penetration and shooting. As a shooter Lamb is as good as they come from deep. He is a terrific three point shooter with NBA range. He also has the mid-range game that most do not possess today. From the elbow to the three Lamb is a terrific scorer.
When attacking the rim Lamb has shown a solid crossover that is a little high, but can get the average defender with consistency going to the basketball. With his long arms and smooth movement he needs to tighten up or lower his dribble to be able to score off the dribble at the next level. He is a crafty dribbler however with a few nice tricks up his sleeve.
All of that is setup and created by simple, unguardable, off the ball movement that Lamb uses every play. The hardest player to guard is a player moving without the ball. For Lamb, he moves through screens, picks, and general movement as good as anyone in the country. That movement creates open looks at the basket and the opportunity to use all facets of his game. Defenses get used to Lamb going to a certain spot and he shifts gears cutting to the basket or making an extra pass to keep the defense on its heels. Other guards, John Jenkins and Bradley Beal come to mind, are terrific off the ball, but not sure any of them have the offensive repertoire that makes Lamb so tough without the ball.
Watching tape of Lamb off the ball he shadows his screens and picks to go back door, pop out for a three, create a distraction that sets up his teammates. His movement is very fluid and shifty, defenders rarely can keep up with him in man or in zone schemes.
Offensively Lamb never needs to take a dribble to make an impact. He is not a great play-maker for others and can move off the ball for all his points. That off-ball movement is invaluable to create space and balance on the court.
Defensively Lamb is not as active as you would want with a player that has his length. He is a developing defender that can be a terrific wing defender, but he needs to add strength and work on his decision making on that end.
I wouldn’t consider Lamb a bad defender at this point, just not a point of emphasis especially with two beasts in the paint behind him protecting his every mistake. On the glass Lamb rebounds his position very well and can be competitive for defensive rebounds, mainly for loose, longer rebounds.
Lamb is a lottery talent even today where it seems as if the “media” has turned against him saying he has been exposed without Kemba Walker. He was never a natural leader like Walker and is doing what he does on the court. He is a lethal scorer who can get buckets fast and in numerous ways. He is best off the ball moving through picks, screens, and other sets on offense. He could use another year in college to build strength, but he can also do the same thing in an NBA off-season.
If you want Lamb to be a leader and distributer, or a leader a la Kemba he will disappoint you. Then again if you look at his strengths and weaknesses he does many things very well and is a legit next level talent.