Of all the Magic’s second and third-year players, none carry so little attention as Doron Lamb.
Perhaps that is how his career has always gone. He was the senior member (as a junior) at Kentucky on their way to the national championship. He led the team in scoring, but it was Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins taking all the headilnes. Lamb slipped to the second round as he was just a guy who did his work and put up numbers. There was nothing spectacular about him (except for his shot, but it was not enough to guarantee him a spot in the league for a long time).
Lamb got lost in the shuffle again in Orlando, it seemed. He came to the team with Tobias Harris and Harris immediately flourished while Lamb tried to find his way. He got his chance to shine in Summer League cut short by an injury. Training camp and the same thing happens.
It took Lamb a long time just to crack the rotation. He did not begin receiving real minutes this season until late January and was not consistently part of the rotation until late February. For the year, he averaged 3.6 points per game and 9.9 points per 36 minutes. He shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Lamb had to fight for playing time and for his way into the rotation time and time again.
“My job is to always be ready to get in the game,” Doron Lamb said in late January. “I don’t know when I’m going to get in but when I do get in I have to be ready and just provide for my teammates, make shots and get my teammates involved.”
It was a frustrating year in some sense for Lamb because he had to sit and wait.
He had his good games though. His best was probably a 14-point outing in a blowout loss to Cleveland on April 2. He got those points on just five shot attempts all of them 3-pointers. He fit into his role that night and was the only bright spot for a Magic team getting blown out.
He had plenty of other moments too which is why the Magic may still try to hang onto him. He is too young to just give up on — even as a second round pick. There is still a lot the young player can do.
“He’s obviously got some talent,” Arron Afflalo said. “He is up here for a reason. He’s still a young player. It’s about harnessing that, maturing and being effective with your opportunities.”
Lamb displayed that talent on several occasions. Never in a tremendous fashion where he dropped 20 in a game, but always a solid way. He fits a role and can use that shooting to perform that role very, very well.
For Lamb though the next stage of his career is trying to push his way into the rotation by performing more consistently. He has to earn consistent playing time by staying healthy, making shots, improving on defense (where he has a ton of potential) and working harder than his competition. Lamb certainly can do this and this year, even with inconsistent playing time, he said he was focused on being prepared to play. That is the mindframe he will have to maintain if he is to get a bigger role.
Jacque Vaughn was always complimentary of his attitude in practice. He rewarded Lamb with playing time as the season waned — he played at least 16 minutes in five of the final six games of the season — and Lamb largely performed, scoring in double figures three times in April. Lamb though still has a ways to go to reach that level of consistency the team needs from him.
Lamb will have to make his own opportunity once again.
“He’s very talented,” Victor Oladipo said. “He doesn’t get a chance to play a lot but when he does he definitely helps us. If he continues to just keep growing and keep playing with confidence, we can really use him.”