Out of all the probable lottery-bound prospects, you likely won't see any name as positionally scattered across mock drafts as that of UConn's Jeremy Lamb. In his latest insider mock, ESPN's Chad Ford has Lamb going at 17, though he admits that some NBA GMs have him as a top 7 or 8 talent. Draft Express ranks Lamb as the number 12 prospect in the draft. What a difference a year can make:
Last year at this time, Connecticut had just improbably won the NCAA Tournament largely due to the brilliance of Kemba Walker. But Lamb, then a freshman, played Robin to Walker's Batman and was a very hot name in draft discussions, even being mentioned as a top-5 candidate. Statistically, Lamb did nothing as a sophomore to drop his draft stock. He assumed the role of top dog for the Huskies and averaged over 17 points-per-game. But along the way, that top-5 luster wore off.
At about 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, Lamb has plenty of size to play the two guard position in the NBA, especially when considering his length. Lamb is impossibly long for his height, with a wingspan of over 7 feet. As a guard, this attribute alone makes him a good defender. Lamb is able to get his hands into passing lanes and contest jump shots unlike most players at his height and position. Lamb is also an excellent athlete which obviously helps on the defensive end of the floor.
Lamb's athleticism and elevation ability give him special potential on the offensive side of the ball. He can finish at the rim and score over bigger players because of his length. He also can rise up and shoot over defenders with ease. Essentially, while Lamb is only 6-foot-5, anyone playing against him would swear he is taller. He exhibits a smoothness on offense that, whether it tangibly matters or not, is impressive to watch.
Lamb's shooting ability is a contention point in many scouting circles. As a freshman, his lanky frame and long arms drew Reggie Miller comparisons. He also shot over 36 percent from three. But as a sophomore, that percentage dropped to 33.6, bringing up questions of shot selection (he took over 6 threes a game). Lamb's midrange jumper is likely his deadliest weapon, though he can tend to rely too heavily on it instead of attacking the rim. Overall, Lamb projects as at least a good NBA shooter, with the potential to be very good.
The questions on Lamb's shot selection may stem from his biggest question mark: his seemingly passive attitude. While Lamb has shown the killer instinct to take over games, he also at times seems disinterested. UConn had some chemistry issues this year which were only exacerbated by Jim Calhoun's medical leave. Without the luxury of a full season of Calhoun and the veteran presence of a guy like Kemba Walker, Lamb showed some immaturity. The interview portion of the draft process will likely be important for him.
From a physical standpoint, Lamb needs to put on weight fast to be able to take the pounding of an NBA season. He also needs work as a passer. As an NBA shooting guard, unless you're an elite scorer, passing is not a part of the game that you can just forego. When Lamb is interested and at his best, it isn't hard to see why his name was at the top of draft boards a year ago. Should he fall into the late lottery or beyond as Ford has projected, someone could be getting the steal of the draft. But it is more likely that he will go in the 9-12 range.