Although it was just the Summer League, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s impressive showing this past week should have some of the top teams in the Western Conference preparing for a difficult season in the West.
OKC won the Orlando Summer League title, going a perfect 5-0 and defeating the Houston Rockets in the final game of the session, as both teams entered the contest 4-0.
Obviously, we’re not about to make a big deal about the Oklahoma City Thunder and their winning the Summer League, but I will talk up the performance of some of OKC’s youngest stars.
While the the Thunder didn’t get to see Russell Westbrook test that meniscus tear, they did see a slew of budding young talent perform at a high level, giving them a boost heading into the 2013-14 campaign.
As I wrote last week, Jeremy Lamb figures to be a big part of the Thunder’s offense with Kevin Martin departing, and by the looks of his Summer League, I hit the nail on the head. Lamb netted 18 points in the final game against Houston and finished the summer with the second-highest scoring average on OKC, with 18.8 points per game—Lamb led the Thunder in total points (75) this summer as well.
As NBA analyst Brett Poirier tweeted, Lamb could be looked to a lot on offense for Oklahoma City this season.
Jeremy Lamb is quickly emerging as the third scoring option for the Thunder. #SummerLeague
— Brett Poirier NBA (@BrettNBA) July 10, 2013
But it wasn’t just Lamb contributing.
Backup point guard Reggie Jackson lit it up in the two games he played, averaging a team-high 19.5 points per game, highlighted by 23 points in the fourth quarter of a win over the Detroit Pistons. Jackson moved to the starter’s role following Westbrook’s injury in the 2013 playoffs.
Oklahoma City’s No. 1 draft pick, Steven Adams, averaged nine points and 6.5 rebounds per game during the Summer League, including 10 points and nine boards in the title game vs. the Rockets.
It may not seem like much, but this is pretty huge for the Thunder.
They already have a strong nucleus in Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but having young scoring options in Lamb and Jackson gives coach Scott Brooks some flexibility when running his offense. Durant and Westbrook will still be the primary scoring options, but when they begin drawing all of the coverage, guys like Jackson and Lamb have the ability to step up.
The Thunder likely drafted Adams for his rebounding and defense, but seeing him put the ball in the basket from the post has to give the Thunder some confidence heading into this season.
After a premature ousting in the 2013 postseason, the Thunder will be back and looking for redemption this season.