RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jeremy Lamb

Posted by AMurawa on June 23rd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Jeremy Lamb

School:Connecticut

Height/Weight: 6’5”, 179 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-Lottery

Lamb Had An Enigmatic Sophomore Campaign

Overview: Coming out of high school, Jeremy Lamb was something of an afterthought in Connecticut’s 2010 recruiting class. While guys like Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith were expected to make an immediate impact with the Huskies, Lamb arrived in Storrs at the 43rd ranked shooting guard in his class, according to ESPNU. And really, as the calendar flipped from 2010 to 2011, while Lamb had turned in some nice performances, he had done little to change that perception. But then, in the middle of January, he turned in a streak of eight straight double-figure scoring efforts (averaging 16.7 PPG over that stretch) and presented himself as a significant second option to alpha dog Kemba Walker. He faded back into obscurity down the stretch of the Big East schedule, but once the Huskies got into elimination basketball, he was excellent, scoring in double figures in each of his Big East and NCAA Tournament games as the Huskies swept to a national title. Along the way, Lamb displayed an excellent shooting touch in a variety of areas, posting a 62% eFG while scoring 15.3 PPG and grabbing a hold of the attention of NBA scouts. But last season, in the absence of Walker, the Huskies struggled with team chemistry as an arguably more talented Husky team struggled home to a mediocre 20-14 finish and a first-round NCAA loss. Lamb’s numbers looked much the same across the board (great offensive efficiency numbers, excellent shooting percentages, few turnovers, and fewer assists) albeit with a bump up in usage, but the team chemistry issues are of concern, as are Lamb’s limited trips to the free throw line and occasionally poor shot selection. Still, with an absurd seven-foot wingspan on a solid 6’5” frame, Lamb’s scoring ability and excellent athleticism make him a highly-regarded NBA prospect.

Will Translate to the NBA: It is right in the name of Lamb’s obvious NBA position: shooting guard. Lamb can shoot the ball at a highly efficient rate in a variety of different ways. His jumper is textbook and he can deliver it through the net with great precision either from beyond the NBA three-point line or in the mid-range game, either spotting up on the wing or running off screens, or with his feet set or off the dribble. Throw in beautiful floaters in the lane, turn-around jumpers over smaller defenders and step-back jobs after getting his defender off balance and Lamb’s a terrific shooter. He also displayed a great ability to get his own shot off the bounce as a sophomore, using his strong ball-handling skills to either break down a defender in an isolation environment or work a pick-and-roll to his advantage. Really, shooting is not even remotely a concerning part of Lamb’s offensive game.

Needs Work: There are a couple of key concerns about Lamb. First, and perhaps least worrisome, is the fact that he is long and lanky and needs to add more strength. Right now, his lack of strength limits him somewhat, but he’s got the frame to bulk up, so that should be merely a temporary concern. Of greater importance are two things: He rarely gets to the free throw line and he sometimes forced shots last season. It is possible that his inability to get to the charity stripe is related to his current lack of strength, as he doesn’t have the bulk to take the pounding inside, and it is possible that his relatively poor shot selection was a result of trying to impose his will on the game in the presence of a couple of shoot-first point guards. So while those issues remain in the back of the minds of NBA front office personnel, it is possible that in the right situation, all of those nitpicks will disappear.

Comparison Players: Joe Johnson was a little more built coming into the NBA than Lamb is, but they had similar games. Johnson came into the league as a well-regarded three-point shooter with a solid handle and a well-rounded game, with some question about his ability to get to the line and to get his teammates involved. Over his 11-year NBA career, Johnson has bulked up and become a consistent scorer with six NBA All-Star selections under his belt. Now, Lamb certainly has some distance to cover before we see him among the best players in the game, but that’s his upside. And if he can patch a few holes in his game, there’s no reason he can’t become a fixture at the end of the bench in all-star games.

Best Case Scenario: He’s got the combination of shooting ability, athleticism, length and ball skills to become an all-star caliber player. It wouldn’t necessarily surprise anyone if Lamb averaged near 20 points a game over the course of more than a decade in the NBA. He showed an ability last season to play a tremendous second fiddle, then as a sophomore showed little additions to his game that make him capable of creating his own offense on the opposite side of the court should option one break down. In the NBA, that’s a terribly valuable commodity. Throw in the fact that the combination of length and athleticism should allow him to be a stellar defender at the two-guard and his best case scenario is very, very good.

Best NBA Fit: Portland has two picks (#6 and #11) where Lamb could be a possibility. The first pick might be a notch or two too high for Lamb, while he could be gone by the time the 11th pick rolls around, but the Trail Blazers could sure use some punch in the backcourt. With Jamal Crawford a potential free agent this season, Lamb could step right into a situation where he is competing primarily with Wesley Matthews (although Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams are still on the roster) for minutes at the two. And, with the Blazers also interested in point guard Damian Lillard (potentially with the #6 pick), the team could have a remade backcourt when draft night is over.

Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Lamb has fallen some in the minds of scouts, but it’s important to remember that the kid is a winner and was integral to the Huskies run to a title a year ago. He’s still unlikely to fall out of the top 10 picks.”

*This post was contributed by RTC’s Andrew Murawa. He can be found on Twitter @amurawa.

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