Someone once said, “All-Star players get you deep into the playoffs but role players win you championships.” Ask any NBA championship team and they would agree with that statement. Hey, just look at last year. The Heat had Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mike Miller step up in crucial moments. Kobe Bryant and Shaq had Robert Horry and Derek Fisher. Even the great one himself, Michael Jordan, needed Steve Kerr to help him win rings. Teams win championships, not individuals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are undoubtedly superstars in this league–both top-five players in my estimation. Put in Serge Ibaka into the mix and now you have a championship core. The thing you need next? Role players.
Former UConn Husky Jeremy Lamb was a Houston Rockets lottery pick in 2012, but was sent to Oklahoma City in the James Harden deal. At this point in his career, Lamb is considered a role player. 2013-14 marks his second season in the pros, and the 6’5” shooting guard is setting career highs in all major categories. After only appearing in 23 games as a rookie, Lamb has already participated in 37 contests as a sophomore. His minutes raised from six to 21 mainly due to the departure of Kevin Martin.
He has taken full advantage of his increased minutes. He is putting up 10 points per game, up from an abysmal three points last year. The most impressive thing has been his improved efficiency. As a rookie Lamb was obviously not ready for the NBA. It showed via his 35 percent shooting from the field. This year Lamb has been shooting 45 percent from the field-0including an impressive 38 percent from the 3-point arc.
Now while Lamb is by no means the best player on the Thunder squad, he may be arguably the most important. Take a load of this stat: the Thunder are 15-3 when Lamb scores 10 or more points in a game. In a season where Kevin Durant has been playing like a MVP and Russell Westbrook has spent more time on the sideline than on the court, someone on the Thunder needed to step up. So far that player has been Lamb. You know that Durant and Westbrook will get their buckets night in and night out, so the difference between winning and losing can be as simple as Lamb’s scoring off the bench. Can Lamb be MJ and Scottie Pippen’s Steve Kerr to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook? Let’s find out.