Two preseason games is far too early to draw any sweeping conclusions about anything NBA related. But it might be enough to start to raise some concern in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder need a sixth man who can come in off the bench and light it up. That was the Kevin Martin role (and before him James Harden’s role), now the Thunder are looking for someone to step up as a third scoring option. They need that role filled if they are going to return to the Finals as they intend (and they need him to be a second scoring option until Russell Westbrook returns).
Jeremy Lamb was supposed to be that guy (along with Reggie Jackson).
So far Lamb is more a reason for concern. He got his shots Tuesday — he played 25 minutes against the Pacers and got 11 shots off from outside the paint, hitting just one of them and going 0-of-8 from three. In the Thunder’s first preseason game against Istanbul he was 2-of-6 on jumpers and 1-of-4 from three.
What may be most concerning is this continues a trend. At Summer League in Las Vegas Lamb shot 39.1 percent overall and 27.3 percent from three. Last season Lamb shot chart was not pretty (unless you love the color red).
Scott Brooks is doing the right thing in trying to pump up Lamb publicly, as he did to the Oklahoman.
“Jeremy hasn’t shot the ball well,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But I believe in what he does. He continues to work on his game. Like all of our players, we’re focusing on defense. But the shots will eventually fall for him. He works extremely hard on his game. He has missed some shots that he’s going to continue to get. They’re going to be open looks and he’s going to be able to step up and stick them in. I believe in that. I think our guys do.”
Lamb is going to get those looks and opponents will encourage him to take them until he makes them pay. It’s a cycle — he has a tendency to fall in love with that shot and not attack, and as long as he’s not hitting teams will give him the jumper and try to cut off driving lanes.
He shot a more respectable 35 percent from three in the D-League last season. He can do it. And to reiterate — it is FAR to early to say how this story is going to end.
But if Thunder fans are a little concerned, you can understand why.