Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Lamb Needs to Realize His Full Potential

Nov 10, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb (3) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Hornets defeated the Timberwolves 104-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 10, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb (3) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Hornets defeated the Timberwolves 104-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

After years of unsuccessful seasons and unrealized potential, Jeremy Lamb has a real shot at becoming a consistent contributor for the Charlotte Hornets.

After being a lottery pick by the Houston Rockets in 2012, fans have been waiting for Jeremy Lamb to have a breakout season in the NBA. The former University of Connecticut player became the center of attention when he was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the James Harden trade. Many expected him to fill Harden’s sixth man role with OKC but after years of being underutilized, he was shipped to the Charlotte Hornets last summer.

As a young wing with plenty of length and athleticism, Lamb has the perfect skill set to be successful at the NBA level. Jeremy’s potential has always surpassed his actual production during his first four seasons in the league. His first three years were spent buried on the bench in OKC.

Lamb was never going to succeed with the Thunder. His first three seasons in the NBA were essentially wasted under Scott Brooks and behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Even after putting up decent numbers in the 2013-14 season, where he played 78 games (mainly because of Westbrook’s injury), Brooks then benched him the next year in favor of Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow.

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The 24-year old guard finally got his shot at consistent playing time with the Charlotte Hornets last season. After only three regular season games with his new team, Charlotte rewarded Lamb with a three-year, $21 million extension. Many were surprised by the deal but as the season went on, it seemed more and more like a steal with the rising camp this summer.

The 6’5 wingman averaged 8.8 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, and 1.2 assist per game last season. He had a career high in PPG, RPG, and minutes per game with 18.6. Jeremy also shot 45.1% from the field, 30.9% from the three-point line, and 72.7% from the free throw line.

Jeremy’s first season with the Hornets is truly a tale of two halves. His play can be split between pre and post All-Star break. After a stellar start to the year, he was benched and seemingly put in the dog house by head coach Steve Clifford for the second half of the season.

Pre All-Star Break: 10.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 20.8 MPG, 46.3% FG/ 31.6% 3FG/ 78.1% FT

Post All-Star Break: 5.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.9 APG, 14.5 MPG, 41.5% FG/ 29.2% 3FG/ 58.3% FT

After never really playing a full 82 game season, Lamb admitted that “Over the year, my mindset, I wasn’t able to bring it every night.” ( He is now working on being better prepared for a full season with Charlotte. He also wants to be more consistent.

Lamb’s stellar start to his career in Charlotte got many fans excited about his potential with the tam going forward. After being bench, expectations for Jeremy were lowered.

Entering his fifth year in the NBA, this may be Jeremy’s make or break season. He isn’t getting any younger and the potential that once showed light at the end of the tunnel, now is a dark cloud that hangs over him. After being benched last year in favor of Troy Daniels, Lamb must prove that he can be a constant contributor on a contending team.

The Virginia native showcased glimpses of highlight reel production last season. All of the pieces are in place for him to succeed with the Hornets. Charlotte lost key guards like Jeremy Lin and Troy Daniels this summer so the back-up wing role is Lamb’s to lose, heading into the 2016 campaign. While the team did acquire Marco Belinelli, he should play alongside Jeremy and compliment his game rather than take away his minutes.

Lamb will likely be the first option off the bench for Steve Clifford this season as he is the most tenured wing with the second unit. If Jeremy isn’t able to put together a productive year with the team, it may be his last real shot at realizing his potential. If he were to be buried on the bench for yet another season, it could spell the end of the optimism surrounding the once promising athlete.

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Jeremy Lamb’s success has always hinged on the mental side of the game rather than the physical. With elite level speed, length, and athleticism, he has all of the tools needed to be a sixth man in the league. His scoring and shooting ability can allow him to become one of the best players off the bench for the Hornets this season.

Maybe Jeremy will never be the great player that many expected and the false hype surrounding him was just that. But maybe he can become the athletic, scoring wing player that so many teams and fans have hope for. The questions about his potential are still there, and until we see what happens this season, we won’t know if he will ever realize his full potential. If he doesn’t, Lamb will fall into the role of a bench wing for years to come. If he wants to be a known figure in the NBA with a prominent role going forward, Jermey will need to step up his game under coach Clifford.

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In my opinion, Lamb is being set up to succeed by the Charlotte Hornets. He has a great team around him that has plenty of chemistry and ample playing time should be given to him After his breakout start to last season, it is clear that he is capable of being the sixth man and averaging double-digit scoring figures off the bench. It will now be up to Jeremy to finally realize his full potential at the NBA level.