Jeremy Lamb 2019-20 Season Highlights
Check out some of the top plays from Jeremy Lamb's 2019-20 season.
Jeremy Lamb 2020 Player Review
Check out some of the top plays from Jeremy Lamb's 2019-20 season.
Player Review 2020: Jeremy Lamb
Years Pro: 8
Status: Entering second season of a three-year deal signed last summer.
Key Stats: Started 42 of 46 games, averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals. Shot 45.1 percent from the field and 83.6 percent from the free throw line.
Jeremy Lamb was one of the key additions by the Pacers in a busy summer last offseason and their marquee free agent signing, as both Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren were acquired via trades. The 6-5 guard was coming off the best season of his seven-year career, when he averaged a career-best 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for Charlotte.
At Lamb's introductory press conference, Pacers President Kevin Pritchard identified him as a player at the "sweet spot" of his career when he was "coming into his own" and someone capable of adding "a lot of fire power" to Indiana's offensive arsenal.
Lamb also was amenable to the Pacers' pitch of dual role for the 2019-20 season, opening the campaign as the starting shooting guard before transitioning to a sixth man position after Victor Oladipo returned from rehabbing his ruptured quad tendon.
"Whatever role I'm given, whether that's starting, whether that's coming off the bench, whether that's scoring, whether that's defense, whatever it is, I'm going to go out there and do it to the best of my ability," Lamb said on the day he signed his contract.
Lamb filled the role asked of him well in his first season in Indiana, but unfortunately injuries hampered and ultimately ended his season.
He had stayed remarkably healthy in Charlotte, missing just a total of five games over the previous two seasons, but that good fortune did not carry over to his debut season with the Blue & Gold.
Lamb missed 11 of the Pacers' first 30 contests. He sat out the second and third games of the seasons with a bruised hip, missed seven games in November with a sprained ankle, and was unavailable for two contests just before Christmas with a sore groin.
But when he was on the floor, Lamb was excellent in his first few months with the Blue & Gold. He scored in double figures in his first 15 games as a Pacer. He had 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting in Indiana's first win at Brooklyn on Oct. 30, then followed that up with a double-double two nights later, tallying 21 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Cleveland at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jeremy Lamb's 2019-20 Season in Photos »
Lamb averaged 17.1 points per game through the end of November, though his scoring average dipped in the proceeding months to 11 points per game in December, 12 in January, and 10.6 in February.
But that dip did not necessarily reflect a drop-off in Lamb's production, but rather the establishment of a clear pecking order in Indiana's offense. The Blue & Gold ran their sets primarily through All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, as well as Brogdon and Warren, leaving Lamb as — at best — the fourth option.
But just as he said he would, Lamb embraced his role and still had games where he took over offensively, like when he scored a season-high 30 points and went 5-for-5 from 3-point range against Denver on Jan. 2, a 28-point outburst in Portland on Jan. 26, or a 26-point performance against New Orleans on Feb. 8.
Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images
Lamb's scoring average might have been higher had he not endured a shooting slump for much of the season. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range in 2017-18 and 34.8 percent on increased attempts the next season, but struggled to find a rhythm from beyond the arc for much of the 2019-20 campaign.
He was shooting just 31.6 percent from 3-point range at the end of January, but seemed to be finally breaking out of the slump in February before his season-ending injury. Lamb went 11-for-25 from 3-point range (44 percent) over nine games in his last month of competition.
But despite a limited offensive role and his shooting struggles, Lamb showed commitment on the defensive end of the floor, where he used his length to collect 1.2 steals per game, the best average of his career.
He also was a popular player in the Pacers' locker room and could often be found exchanging playful banter with his teammates after wins.
Lamb was supposed to transition into a bench role after Oladipo returned, but that plan barely had time to come to fruition. Oladipo made his season debut on Jan. 29 but initially came off the bench to limit his minutes. He moved into the starting lineup on Feb. 5, but an injury to Warren kept Lamb with the starters for the next two games before Oladipo sat out one more game on the second night of a back-to-back.
Lamb finally fully transitioned to the second unit on Feb. 10 against Brooklyn. He came off the bench for two games before the All-Star break and two more after, but his season came to an abrupt end when he tore the ACL and lateral meniscus in his left knee when he was fouled on a layup attempt early in the second quarter of a loss at Toronto on Feb. 23.
That injury robbed the Pacers of a chance to have a full roster heading into the playoffs and took away what had the potential to be a lethal second unit. In 63 minutes together, the five-man lineup of Lamb with reserves T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday, and Doug McDermott alongside Sabonis (who usually manned the center position with the bench unit) outscored opponents by an absurd 17.9 points per possession, the best net rating of any Pacers lineup that logged 50 or more minutes together.
Lamb showed his toughness after his knee injury, stepping up to the free throw line and making both foul shots before exiting the game.
An injury of that magnitude can be devastating for any player, particularly someone like Lamb, whose love of the game is readily apparent. Nonetheless, Lamb maintained a positive attitude throughout the remainder of the season.
He underwent successful surgery on March 11, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the NBA season. He continued his rehab during the hiatus and even elected to travel with the Pacers to Florida for their first few weeks in the NBA bubble in Orlando so he could continue to work with team trainers and support his teammates during the season restart.
Lamb still has a ways to go in his rehab, but if all goes well, he should be able to return to the court sometime in the early months of 2021. The pandemic could allow him to miss less of next season than originally thought, since the delayed conclusion to the 2019-20 season will push back the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
Assuming the Pacers stay healthy, Lamb will likely finally fill the sixth man role upon his return. But knowing Jeremy Lamb, he will happily embrace whatever role the team asks of him.