Last season, NBA fans were treated to the continued progression of Danny Green, as the swingman emerged as a hero during both the postseason and NBA Finals. The season before that, Jeremy Lin took us all for a ride as Linsanity broke out with abandon.
Needless to say, each player proved that the D-League can host and subsequently provide an assist in the rise of tomorrow's key NBA contributors. With that in mind, is there a player who will follow suit and become such a household name in similar fashion?
With one month of the 2013-14 season down and plenty more to go, there appears to be a frontrunner already.
After going back and forth between the Oklahoma City Thunder and NBADL-affiliated Tulsa 66ers last season, Jeremy Lamb had appeared in 21 games after it was all said and done. Emerging as a star for Tulsa, the guard averaged 21 points (on 49% from the field and 35% from downtown), 5.3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest.
Playing in the D-League may have gotten Lamb more experience, but the fact of the matter is gaining more trust from one's team goes a long way when attempting to raise their confidence level.
Whereas some players view an assignment to the NBADL as a demotion, Lamb instead took it in stride. He used such time to further hone his skills, making him ready to pounce at the next opportunity that comes along.
As it so happens, that next opportunity came quicker than perhaps some may have thought it would have, but Lamb has nevertheless grabbed it by the horns. Stepping up to replace the since departed Kevin Martin, the young gun has emerged as Oklahoma City's resident sharpshooter off the bench.
The guard's recent success is well documented here, asserting that he's be able to thrive while playing key minutes for the championship contender. But perhaps more key to his success than simply increased minutes has been the looks Lamb's team gets him within the flow of the offense.
Trusting a player with more minutes is one thing, but making them one of the focal points of your offense is another. Even with bonafide stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in town, Lamb is proving he can knock down shots with the best of them. From last season to this one, the guard is actually averaging more shots made from downtown per game now (1.4) than the ones he was otherwise simply taking (1.3) last year. His percentages have risen mightily, as Lamb shoots 45% from the field and 40% from downtown.
Granted more minutes, Lamb has not only proven to be simply serviceable, but also quite clutch in the process. As he continues to thrive, his confidence otherwise rises, and thus, he's playing a major role for the Thunder in the early goings of the season.
There's no doubt that the 21 year old has (so far) been able to cash in some of his NBADL level stardom for some success in The Association as his skills appear to have translated soon enough already.
By proving his worth so far in a similar fashion to the likes of Lin and Green, Lamb is suggesting rather quickly that he's the prime NBA D-League alumni to watch this season.