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Jeremy Lamb Makes The Leap in Charlotte

As a key piece in the James Harden trade, Jeremy Lamb disappointed in OKC. But in Charlotte, he’s thriving.

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Lamb Makes The Leap in Charlotte

It took a few years, but Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb finally has come into his own as an NBA player. In his fourth season as a pro, Lamb is averaging just shy of 12 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the floor – both of which are career highs. But, most importantly, he’s finally playing an important role on a team that truly needs him – averaging 22.5 minutes and 9.9 shot attempts per game, which are also career-highs. That, he says, is what has made all the difference this season and allowed him to nearly double his offensive output.

“It’s all opportunity,” Lamb told Basketball Insiders. “I sat on the bench for the first three years of my career, so opportunity has a big effect on the success I’ve had this year.”

As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lamb often had a limited role. Last season, the Thunder played him only 13.5 minutes a night and he failed to average seven points per contest. Of course, that was on a roster that featured two of the game’s top scorers, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and he received just 5.3 shot attempts per game. Now, the Hornets are asking much more of him and he has stepped up in response.

“It is a different offense,” Lamb said. “Here, there are more guys scoring, but those guys in Oklahoma City are truly great scorers so more offense obviously ran through them. They took a lot of that role onto their shoulders because that was their job, but here we have to spread the ball [around]. We don’t have two superstars that we can go to every night, so we have to play together and do what we can to win games.”

According to Lamb, Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford has been a big reason for his breakout season as well.

“He does a good job helping everybody play to their strengths. He sees the best in me,” Lamb said. “Coach Clifford said he always knew I was a good shooter, but he didn’t realize how good of a passer I was, so he said I should do more in making plays for others. A lot of people can get a shot whenever they want, but he reminded me that making the extra pass goes a long way, not only for you but for the team. It helps everybody play well together, and that’s one thing he thinks I do well.”

Lamb, who as a rookie served as an integral piece in the trade that sent that James Harden to Houston, is only now hitting his stride in the NBA. Looking back to when he was a rookie waiting to play his first pro game with the Rockets, Lamb said the trade sort of devastated him. Then, he found that the situation in Oklahoma City wasn’t conducive to getting him playing time.

“It was definitely tough,” Lamb said. “I had just gotten into the NBA and was trying to learn the ropes, find my way, only to find out I had been traded. So I go to Oklahoma City and then end up in the D-League. It was just tough early on, so I really had to lean on my teammates and my family to get through it and keep a good mindset, my work ethic. I’m glad it worked out.”

That D-League experience, which many former first-round picks have viewed as something of a death sentence, did more for Lamb as a rookie than anything he learned while called up to the Thunder.

“I learned a lot in the D-League,” Lamb said. “I looked at as something that was going to be very negative and I didn’t want to go, but it’s not as negative as people look at it. There are still some really good games down there. Everybody’s trying to get to the league down there so it’s really competitive, and there are some really good players. It’s tough at times because you don’t know if or when you’re coming up, but I learned a lot, got some great workouts in, played some great competition and had some great teammates. It made me better, even though when I was going through it I didn’t realize it.”

Now, Lamb finally looks like an every-day rotational player, though we probably still haven’t come close to seeing the end of his development. He still is only 23 years old, and should he ever bump up to 28-30 minutes a night his production should soar even higher. He’s in the right situation for that to happen, though he seems committed to putting in the work required to make another statistical jump happen.

“I just want to keep working hard,” Lamb said. “That’s what got me to this point, so I want keep it up, keep God first and continue to play well. I want to have fun playing this game and living my dream.”

Coach Kidd Out Indefinitely Due to Hip Surgery

The Milwaukee Bucks announced that head coach Jason Kidd is out indefinitely because he will undergo hip surgery today. Assistant coach Joe Prunty will assume head coaching responsibilities during Kidd’s absence. Early reports have estimated that Kidd will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks, but it all depends how the former point guard heals.

“I have every confidence in Joe to lead our team during my absence,” Kidd said. “Joe has many years of coaching experience both in the NBA and in international competition. He’s well-respected in the league and I know our players and coaches will give their all during Joe’s time as head coach.

“I tried to put off surgery for as long as I could, but after consulting with my doctor, he advised that the best course of action was to have the procedure now.”

Kidd has had hip problems dating back to his playing days with the Dallas Mavericks. Kidd is in his third season as a head coach.

Prunty is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Bucks after also serving as an assistant coach under Kidd in Brooklyn during the 2013-14 campaign. Currently in his 20th season in the NBA, Prunty has also coached with Cleveland (2010-13), Portland (2008-10), Dallas (2005-08) and San Antonio (1996-2005). He is also the head coach of Great Britain’s men’s national team.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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