The Bucks were without first-round pick John Henson to begin their Las Vegas Summer League schedule (Henson was held out with an illness), but the Bucks' 2012 draft class was well represented by second-round selection Doron Lamb. In a first-half interview, Bucks GM John Hammond said the team graded Lamb as a first-round talent, a view shared by many analysts pre-draft. Bucks fans are hoping Lamb can join the growing ranks of successful second-round picks by the Bucks, which makes his strong debut in Vegas an exciting and encouraging topic.
Doron Lamb started the game extremely well, sinking his first four shots while serving as a focal point of Milwaukee's first-quarter offense. He started most plays spotting up in a corner, receiving quite a few off-ball screens to move around the floor. His first possession looked positively Dunleavyan (Dunleavian?), coming off a pin-down screen for a one-dribble pull-up at the right elbow. Many of his early plays functioned in a similar manner, even when he didn't end up with the ball. He showed a nice hesitation move off a left-wing curl to get to the rim and sink a short floater, in between a step-back off the dribble and a strong dive to the rim that took Austin Rivers (who was defending him for much of the game) right under the basket. Lamb finally missed on his fifth attempt, a three-point attempt he left a little short.
In all likelihood, Lamb's role will max out as a spot-up shooter off the bench this season, and it's tough to predict to what degree even the second-unit offense will run set plays for him. He moved around the court well, though, and looked continuously prepared to receive a pass on the perimeter. It was nice, then, to see him do so much of his damage at the free-throw line (skewed a bit by four late free-throws when the Hornets were intentionally fouling to extend the game). Lamb drew free throws in a variety of ways, getting leveled on a long jumper at one point, sinking a coast-to-coast and-1 layup at another. The nine attempts at the line were a surprise, but a pleasant one to be sure.
Lamb didn't do a whole lot of ball-handling--that was left mostly to the formidable point-guard pairing of Aaron Miles and Cameron Wells, they of the 4/10 assist-turnover ratio. He did show some good moves with the ball, shaking Austin Rivers with a quick crossover to set up an easy 16-foot pull-up in the 2nd quarter. He didn't commit a single turnover despite facing a few traps, though he didn't record an assist either (he probably would have finished with at least 2 from a more generous scorekeeper). Rounded out by four defensive rebounds, it was a line dominated by scoring, but understandably so.
Defensively, Lamb held up reasonably well as an on-ball defender, but he got clobbered by a few screens while chasing his man. Matched up against Rivers for much of the game, Lamb's ability to turn away dribble drives was tested, and he did well. Much of that credit goes to Rivers himself, who looked like a guy playing NBA2K for the first time: wild attacks and wild passes to pretty much anybody he saw. Still, if you put any stock in counterpart-based defensive metrics (please don't put too much in them), the lack of success in New Orleans' backcourt is probably a good sign.
All told, it was about as good a start as we could have hoped to see from Lamb. We're still waiting on the first three-pointer to drop, but if he stays as creative and involved in the offense as he was Monday night, there won't be much to complain about.