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Oklahoma City Thunder: Why Jeremy Lamb Is Exceeding Expectations

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COMMENTARY | There was a big concern for the Oklahoma City Thunder coming into the 2013-2014 season: How would the Thunder replace the production of Kevin Martin? Who will their third scoring option be?

All eyes quickly turned to 21-year-old, second-year player Jeremy Lamb.

Expectations for Lamb were extremely high, as Scott Brooks and the coaching staff in Oklahoma City was asking a guy who spent basically all of his season last year in Tulsa to be practically thrown into the fire and give the Thunder 20 minutes a game. It wasn't an easy task for the 21-year-old.

On Media Day, Brooks said this on Lamb and his expectations: "We're excited about Jeremy and what he brings to our team. He's a terrific scorer. He can make shots. My job is to find areas on the floor he can continue to feel comfortable. This is only his second year. He's only 20 years old. He has a lot of areas he's going to improve the next six or seven years. We're excited about having him. But my job is also to find who is best for us on the floor and the good thing about all our players is that they understand it's earned minutes."

Through 18 games, the answer has been, in fact, Lamb.

In those 17 games, Lamb is posting 9.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, shooting 46 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep in 20 minutes a game. Against Portland on Wednesday night, he gave the Thunder 10 points off the bench in 26 minutes. In Sacramento the night before, he scored seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Royce Young of dailythunder.com had an interesting stat on Lamb's production and how it measures up with James Harden's in his second year in the league. Harden's 2nd season per 36: 16.4 ppg (43.6 FG%, 34.9 3P%), 4.2 rpg, 2.9 apg. Lamb this year per 36: 16.7 ppg (45.0, 39.2), 4.0 rpg, 2.1 apg

It's not just his numbers that are astounding. It's his ability to just make plays for this Thunder team. There have been games where Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant would have off-nights shooting the ball, and Jamb -- along with Reggie Jackson -- would single-handedly either keep Oklahoma City in the game, or win games for the team.

And it's not just on the offensive end. Lamb makes a difference and makes plays on the defensive end using his length and athleticism. He creates offensive opportunities on the other end such as easy transition baskets. Jackson and Lamb's production off the bench has been awesome and through only 18 games, look like they have been playing for years now with their continuity.

Scott Brooks and the Thunder coaching staff were asking a lot of a 21-year-old who spent a majority of his time in Tulsa just last year. Lamb had a lot of expectations on him to fill the void of Martin, and he hasn't squandered the opportunity one bit.

Eli Friedman has previously worked for Fansided.com, and Rant Sports as the Oklahoma City Thunder Beat Writer. Friedman's work has been published on FoxSports.com, ESPN TrueHoop affiliate dailythunder.com, and the OKC Thunder team page on SI.com. Eli has also appeared on many sports talk shows such as ESPN RADIO 1420.

You can follow Friedman on twitter @Eli_NBAOKC.

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