Jeremy Lamb has always been an intriguing NBA prospect. It's just that his journey from college All-American to lottery pick has been obscured at times by his UConn teammate Andre Drummond, who could go in the top-5 of Thursday's NBA Draft.
But that doesn't mean that Lamb, the 6-5 shooting guard, isn't talented enough to help a next season or, in the long run, turn out to be a better player than Drummond. It's just that, this time of year, everything's relative. Which explains why Lamb, just days before the biggest day of his life, was answering questions about Drummond. Specifically, questions about his work ethic.
“It depends on if he wants to work,” Lamb said earlier this week. “He’s a great athlete. He can jump. He can block shots. He can rebound. I always say, it’s funny, we will have an early practice at like 8 a.m., and everyone is trying to get warmed up and stuff. He’ll just come out and do a windmill to warm up. His bounce is amazing. I believe he’s going to work hard, develop post moves, I think he can be a great pro.”
Ironically, NBA execs, coaches and scouts have voiced concerns that Lamb's laid-back style might not translate well at the professional level. That's not to say there are questions about his work ethic, just his on-court demeanor. As for the former, Lamb's high school coach Jesse McMillan offers confirmation.
“Any time you heard a ball bouncing, there’s a very good chance it was Jeremy,’’ McMillan told the Boston Globe recently. “You can use the ‘gym rat’ label for a lot of kids, but very few prove it, and he did, pretty much every day. We start school at 7:20 a.m., and he was routinely there before I was, putting in the work, not just talking the talk.’’
And the latter, coach Jim Calhoun has no problems with Lamb's game. He just thinks that, like most young players, Lamb needs to go to the right system. "It would be good if he had something like he had here with Kemba [Walker]," Calhoun said recently, "a guard who could draw defenders to him then kick it back out. I've told [NBA scouts], Jeremy is the best long-range shooter out there; if you need to shoot behind the NBA three-point line, he's the best one out there. So for a team that shoots a lot of threes … I think he's going to be a real good pro."
Lamb has spent much of the last month working out for various NBA teams. He's expected to go anywhere from No. 8 (Toronto) to No. 15 (Philadelphia). In a few short hours, the speculation will end, and Lamb's career will officially begin.