As a long time Houston Rockets fan, I was excited when they drafted Jeremy Lamb with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Although I’m not a big follower of college ball, I had seen Lamb play during his UCONN days and I took a liking to him. It just so happened that one of the few players I actually knew in that years draft was picked by the team I follow religiously.
But then, the trade happened. You know which trade I’m talking about, and chances are, you don’t feel so bad for me. And really, I can’t be so upset about it because Houston got James Harden in return for the herky-jerky Kevin Martin and a wiry, 21-year old who ended up playing 147 minutes in his rookie season.
But you know what? I am a little bitter. As I said, I took a liking to Lamb when he won a national championship with Kemba Walker and I truly believe that he possesses the skills required to make it in the NBA. Maybe not those James Harden-like skills, but still, skills. The kind that can make a big difference when he eventually carves out a role on a team. The kind that will keep him in the NBA for many years to come. The kind that could turn him into a starter someday very soon.
Now, that may sound a little coo-coo seeing as I’m talking about someone who spent the entire season in the NBA’s Development League, but there was a good reason for that decision: management thought Lamb improve much more by playing for the Tulsa 66ers than he would riding the bench for the title contending Thunder.
And that he did.
During his first couple of stints with the 66ers, Lamb struggled with consistency. One night, he’d pour in 20-something points and the next, he’d just break the teens on some woeful shooting. But after Lamb dropped 33 points in a losing effort to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on January 10th, something clicked. During the rest of his time with the 66ers, Lamb averaged 22.7 points on a highly impressive 58.6% FG. And along the way, he carried the Thunder’s D-League affiliate to the second round of the Playoffs, where they would go on to get swept by none other than the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – the Rockets’ affiliate – mainly because Lamb got called back up to Oklahoma in preparation for the NBA Playoffs.
Now Lamb has his first off-season to enjoy as a pro, and he’ll spend most of it representing his team in the burning hot Vegas gyms for the Summer League, and not long after, he’ll be called back into service for training camp. Whether or not he’ll get more minutes as a result of all that basketball remains to be seen, but hopefully the coaching staff will have a little more faith in the Husky by then. After all, I know I’m ready to see his silky smooth jumper in NBA arenas. And after you watch his season highlight reel with the 66ers, I’m sure you’ll feel the exact same way.