At least someone on OKC hasn’t forgotten about Jeremy Lamb…
At least someone on OKC hasn’t forgotten about Jeremy Lamb…
The 2014 Orlando Summer League ended July 11 with the Philadelphia 76ers taking home the trophy at the expense of Memphis. The OSL featured Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets). Orlando was not particularly kind to the former Huskies, Giffey and Kromah struggled to find minutes playing behind team investments while Lamb and Napier laid bricks. Here are complete player statistics from Orlando and a closer look at Lamb/Napier’s numbers:
You can’t look at Lamb’s statistics without two numbers sticking out, 32 and 17. Lamb shot a horrid 4-23 (17%) from deep in 3 games and only 32% from the field overall. With such a silky stroke, those numbers are unfathomable. On the plus side, he did fill up the box score for the Thunder while playing 31 minutes per game, good for third in the league. Lamb’s 17.3 scoring mark (6th overall) and 80% from the free throw line at least show he can get to the line and put points on the board even when his shot is off. Conditioning may also have been a factor in the poor shooting- Lamb will by nothing but net once again by the start of the year.
Similar to Lamb, Shabazz Napier struggled shooting the ball in his first summer league. Napier shot only 27% from the field and a sub-Lamb 15% from three. What could possibly be more shocking than that? 3P% was not even the most alarming statistic. It’s 4.8. That is the number of turnovers Napier averaged in 5 OSL games, including 8 in a match-up with Celtics first-round pick Marcus Smart. Though that is unusually high, I am not worried about the turnovers- Napier can handle the basketball, we all know that. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the game and that is all he needs, time. If anything, Napier’s ability to battle through the turnovers and shooting troubles and still have the confidence to make plays (4.6 apg), defend (1.8 spg) and score the basketball (9.2 ppg on 80 ft%) should serve as a positive.
The Sacramento Kings, featuring newly acquired center Alex Oriahki, have won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League. Stay tuned for a recap of all UCONN players in Vegas including Jerome Dyson, Deandre Daniels and Shabazz Napier…
A number of former UCONN players will participate in the 2014 NBA Summer League, held in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21). The Orlando league will feature Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets) with all games taking place at the Amway Center, the Orlando Magic practice court. Teams will play 5 games in 7 days with a championship game held on July 11th. A point system determines the standings with 4 points awarded to the winning team and 1 point awarded to the winner of each quarter, for a total of 8 potential points per game.
Niels Giffey flew under the radar for much of the season at UCONN despite leading the AAC in three point shooting percentage. The summer league provides a great opportunity for players to show their stuff in front of an audience that includes personnel from every NBA team. Jeremy Lin is a great example of a player who turned a strong summer league showing in a multi-million dollar contract. I believe Giffey has NBA talent, by July 11th we will know if NBA teams feel the same.
Shabazz Napier was selected by the Miami Heat with the 24th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Many believe this was directly influenced by the team’s desire to retain superstar forward LeBron James, a huge advocate of Napier. King James believed Napier should have been the first point guard taken in the draft and I completely agree. Napier will get his first chance to prove he is the top point guard in the draft class when he battles 6th overall pick Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics tomorrow at 11am.
Jeremy Lamb is a star in the making for the OKC Thunder. With two full seasons under his belt, Lamb will transition into a third scoring option to complement the dynamic Westbrook/Durant duo. After finishing in the top three in scoring during last year’s summer league (18.8ppg), look for Lamb to take home the scoring title in 2014. Also, on a team featuring Lamb, Perry Jones III (Baylor) and Steven Adams (Pitt)- don’t be surprised if OKC runs through the competition along their inevitable path to the championship game.
Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics, July 5th, 11AM: Key Matchup: Napier vs Smart
Memphis Grizzlies vs OKC Thunder, July 5th, 5PM: Giffey vs Lamb
OKC Thunder vs Brooklyn Nets, July 7th, 7PM: Lamb vs Kromah
Miami Heat vs Detroit Pistons, July 8th, 5PM: Napier vs Peyton Siva (Louisville)
Here is the complete lineup of the 2014 Orlando Summer League, courtesy of nba.com.
I will post recaps of all the games and video links as (or if) they are available. All games will be televised on NBA TV.
I first heard rumors of Kevin Ollie to the NBA during a team breakfast at the Big East Tournament in 2011. In only his first year as an assistant coach, it was evident Ollie had the coaching gene and could not be kept a secret much longer. Earlier today, ESPN.com reported the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in Kevin Ollie to fill their newly vacant head coaching job. This poses a haunting question to UCONN fans- Olliewood or Hollywood?
First, lets take a look at why the Lakers (or any NBA team) want Kevin Ollie:
The most attractive quality surrounding Kevin Ollie is not his 2014 National Championship ring, no Ollie was on the NBA radar far before his magical postseason. Kevin Ollie is attractive to NBA teams because of the respect he garners from his peers- peers who just so happen to be 4x NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant and 4x MVP Lebron James. James, alluded to the aforementioned “coaching gene” in an interview after the Huskies win while Durant had this to say in 2013. “Kevin Ollie changed the culture with the Thunder,” Durant commented, “Just like he’s doing now with UConn. He was a big part of what we do, and still is, because of what he instilled in us. He’s always going to be a brother of mine.”Durant continued to say he had no doubt in his mind Ollie could coach at the NBA level.
The Lakers, coming off a 27-55 season that left them with more questions than answers, have one definitive answer. With an aging Kobe Bryant returning from knee surgery, the team will undoubtedly make a push for super-star caliber free agents Lebron (2014) or KD (2016). If the Lakers were to allow James or Durant their choice of coach, Los Angeles becomes a much more attractive destination with Kevin Ollie the main beneficiary.
According to an ESPN NBA attendance report, the Clippers have drawn more fans than the Lakers for each of the past three seasons. In other words, “Lob City” has replaced “Showtime” in the city of angels. Recent Lakers teams conjure images of aging, injury-prone stars whereas the Clippers are associated with high-flying, energetic excitement (think Pau Gasol hook shot vs Blake Griffin alley-oop). What better way to reverse that perception than to hire a youthful, energetic coach such as Kevin Ollie?
Also, the aftermath of the Donald Sterling saga has forced Clippers sponsors and fans alike to question their loyalties. What better way to attract the in-between/undecided/disgusted than to bring in a coach whose highest values are that of family and brotherhood. As we have seen in Connecticut, Kevin Ollie is not just a basketball coach but a community activist. Given recent events, it is not surprising the Lakers see value in hiring not only a community man, but also a local success story all Angelenos can rally around.
Breathe easy Husky fans, Kevin Ollie isn’t going anywhere…yet. While it is certain Ollie will end up on the sidelines of a NBA franchise one day, his mission is not complete. The collegiate level allows for the development of not only basketball skills, but life skills, a part of the process you can tell Ollie takes great pride in. His efforts have been recognized by our incoming recruits- Daniel Hamilton a 6’7 wing from Los Angeles- spoke to the “brotherhood” at UCONN as the deciding factor in his recruitment. Sam Cassell Jr, son of former NBA player Sam Cassell (a longtime friend of Ollie’s), echoed Hamilton’s sentiments and added KO was the type of coach he could play for. Ollie is not the type to lure recruits under the false pretense of “family” just to bolt to greener (literally) pastures. Don’t forget, Kevin Ollie could have remained with the OKC Thunder in a front office position upon retirement. Something drew him back to Connecticut, and that something is more than just a paycheck.
Another point to consider is the relationship between Ollie and Jim Calhoun. Ollie has said in the past Calhoun was a role model/mentor to him and credits the Hall of Fame coach for much of his success. Upon his departure, Calhoun hand-picked Ollie as his successor and gave KO the reigns to a program he started from scratch. I don’t see Ollie leaving UCONN on a whim, especially after all that was entrusted to him by his mentor. Down the road? Absolutely. And you cannot blame him. Ollie is a competitor and to win at the highest level is undeniably a goal he hopes to one day achieve. When KO does leave UCONN, he will leave the program stable and hopefully with a few more pieces of hardware. As for now, it’s Olliewood over Hollywood.