An afterthought in a bombastic recruiting class featuring the likes of Brandon Knight
, Terrence Jones
and Enes Kanter
, Doron Lamb
was a McDonald's All-American in his own right and a significant contributor on a Kentucky team that ended up making the Final Four.
With fellow backcourt mates Knight and DeAndre Liggins
off to the professional ranks, Lamb will be looking to build on an excellent debut season that saw him emerge as one of the most efficient freshmen in college basketball.
Lamb lacks ideal physical tools for a high-level NBA shooting guard, standing 6-4, with an average frame and good, but not incredible athleticism. He compensates for that with his skill-level and aggressiveness, showing terrific scoring instincts and an excellent mentality on both ends of the floor relative to his role.
Watching him in high school, Lamb didn't always look like a player that would buy in to being a role player from day one, as he displayed plenty of issues with his shot selection and all-around decision making. To his credit, that was not the case at all last year, as he did precisely what was asked of him by John Calipari seeing almost all of his offense spotting up on the wing or running the floor in transition-- and did so in an incredibly efficient manner at that.
Lamb's perimeter shooting alone would be enough to get him noticed by NBA talent evaluators, as he made 49% of his 3-pointers, 5th best amongst all collegiate prospects last year.
Most of his shots came with his feet set, but he was pretty effective shooting off the dribble as well. He gets good elevation on his jumper, displaying fluid, consistent mechanics with NBA range, always being ready and willing to rise and fire when called upon. Highly aggressive seeking out scoring opportunities, Lamb toed the line extremely well between assertiveness and overconfidence as a freshman, which will make it interesting to see how his role evolves this upcoming season.
Also a pretty solid ball-handler, Lamb can create his own shot fairly effectively from the perimeter, which differentiates him from most of the Jon Diebler
or Ashton Gibbs
type perimeter marksmen. He's not someone that can be counted on as a go-to guy necessarily, but is certainly not a one dimensional player either. Kentucky liked to bring him off a lot of short curls in the 15-17 foot area as a secondary option, where he create separation from his defender for a jumper or use one dribble to get into the paint and shoot a floater.
Lamb has a good first step and is capable of driving left or right, sometimes struggling to finish around the rim in the half-court due to his lack of size and average explosiveness. He did not get to the line very often, but posted a positive assist to turnover ratio and converted over 50% of his 2-pointers. He's extremely effective in transition thanks to his aggressive mentality and terrific scoring instincts, so it will be interesting to see how his shot-creating ability in the half-court evolves in the future.
Out of necessity, Kentucky played him some minutes at the point last season when Brandon Knight
went to bench, but that didn't prove to be an ideal option, as he's not a great passer and clearly thinks shoot first when he has the ball in his hands.
Defensively, Lamb more than held his own as a freshman, which is a requirement playing for John Calipari at Kentucky. He moves his feet very well on the perimeter, doing a very good job using his length to contest shots, even if he isn't going to get his team a great deal of extra possessions. He may lack some size and bulk to help cover the most talented shooting guards he'll encounter in the NBA, but more than makes up for that with effort at the collegiate level.
Lamb may not share the same upside of some of his more highly touted teammates at Kentucky this season once again, but his value to professional talent evaluators looks quite clear. He projects as an efficient two way player who is dangerous enough from anywhere on the floor to help take the pressure off his team's primary options, either coming off the bench or alongside a couple of stars. Lamb will likely have a chance to expand his role somewhat more as a sophomore, and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the same efficiency while showing some added wrinkles to his game.