WFNZ/Jason Huber

Lamb becoming Hornets secondary playmaker

Jason Huber
December 05, 2018 - 3:39 pm

Entering the 2018-19 NBA season, the biggest question mark for the Hornets was which player would step up as the Kemba Walker's sidekick? 

If you put a list together of experts and fans guesses, the overwhelming prediction would be sixth-year shooting guard, Jeremy Lamb

It's safe to say that Lamb has stepped up to the challenge, even when there were early trade talks for Wizards guard Bradley Beal to help take the load off Kemba. 

Over the last 10 games, Lamb has scored 20+ points in six games and is averaging a career-high 15.2 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in 28.2 minutes per game. 

"I didn't know he'd come along this quickly," head coach James Borrego said. "He's just gaining confidence. He wants to be that second scorer for us consistently every night. He's made plays for us." 

Drafted 12th overall out of UConn in 2012 by the Houston Rockets, Lamb was traded to Oklahoma City in the James Harden trade. In 2015, Lamb was sent to Charlotte from Oklahoma City for Luke Ridnour and a second-round draft pick, the Hornets saw potential in Lamb and it seems to finally be paying off. 

"Our guys trust him, they're looking for him, he's a big part of this group," Borrego said.

Lamb was given the starting shooting-guard role before the season by Borrego in place of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Lamb had only started 33 career games before 2018 with 18 coming last season in Charlotte.

Through the first quarter of the season, Lamb has solidified his starting spot and is clearly the team's number two option and number one when Kemba is struggling, during a contract year.

"Hydrating, stretching, eating right, all that just plays a part of 82 games," Lamb said. "You can play well one game, two games, but when it gets to 30 games, you have to ready and keep your body right." 

Over the years, Lamb has shown flashes of star potential. He scored a career-high 32 points against Toronto in December 2017. He had a career-high 17 rebounds in 2016. However, Lamb was never consistent. One good game would lead to a game where he struggled. 

Standing at 6'6, the average height for a shooting guard, Lamb has made himself a player that can not only aggressively drive to the basket when needed, but also shoot and defend.

“We’re starting to expect this out of Lamb now,” Borrego said. “Which is a good thing, this sort of aggression and consistency. But it starts with his defensive game a lot. He's in tune defensively. He tries to rebound, it really gets him going." As a career 34 percent 3-point shooter, Lamb has never been a behind-the-arc player. But, he also hasn't been as aggressive in the paint until this season. 

"Lamb has been attacking in transition," Borrego said. "When there was flow there, Lamb rebounded it and the ball got out there quick and that's Lamb's best time to attack. He's another threat for us. At half court, he's playing off of Kemba and that's his time to attack." 

Now in the final year of his three-year contract, Lamb's jump has made life easier for Kemba and the improvement over his last few seasons has been noticed.

"He's a secondary playmaker out there with Kemba," Borrego said. "He's doing a great job." 

If this type of play from Lamb continues, the Hornets will have to make a decision on whether or not they can afford him. Walker is also entering free agency seeking a max deal and both may be too much for Charlotte to afford.

However, until then, Lamb is doing his best to be the number two guy that the Hornets have been in need for behind Kemba. 

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