Free agent Jeremy Lamb has reached agreement with the Indiana Pacers on a three-year, $31 million contract, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Lamb, who averaged career-highs in points (15.3), rebounds (5.5), steals (1.1), free throw rate (.266), and made 3-pointers (330) as Charlotte’s second-leading scorer behind Kemba Walker, could start in place of Victor Oladipo and then transition to leading the bench once the two-time All-Star returns.
“I’ve always wanted to be a starter in the NBA, but I think playing is more important,” Lamb said during exit interviews. “If I’m starting, but the team isn’t playing as well, then it doesn’t matter. But if I’m coming off the bench, and we’re playing better, I’d definitely choose that.
I just think that contributing and playing is more important than starting or coming off the bench.”
Given that the 27-year-old wing appeared to perform better last season when playing starter’s minutes, it stands for good reason why he values rhythm over role. In particular, his October, in which he posted a scoring average of 10.9 points on 39 percent shooting in less than 25 minutes per game, stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to the rest of his season, when he averaged nearly five additional minutes of action and generated 15.8 points per game on 44 percent shooting.
With a similar opportunity to consistently find his feel on a roster short on established two-guards (sans Oladipo), Lamb offers the Pacers a buttery, multi-level scorer capable of shooting off-the-catch (38.5 percent), pulling-up from mid-range (48.4 percent), and using his length and touch to drop-in floaters of all varieties at a respectable clip (48.4 percent). He isn’t singularly great from any one range, but he poses a certain degree of threat from nearly every range, minus the fact that he’s better at stopping-and-popping than he is at finishing around the basket (46.4 percent).
Unlike the majority of Indiana’s roster in the wake of Oladipo’s season-ending injury, he also doesn’t necessarily need a screen to be effective. Whether backing off and shooting with confidence or sensing contact and attacking, Lamb scored 0.935 points per possession on isolations, per Synergy, which ranks in the same range as Lou Williams (0.964) on nearly identical volume.
Additionally, he hit multiple big, late-game shots when all eyes were on Kemba Walker, suggesting perhaps that he could be a much-needed secondary option in crunch-time when defenses key-in on Victor Oladipo, especially since the Pacers ranked 25th in clutch offense during their closer’s absence over the latter portion of the season.
Lamb fits the team’s needs as an off-the-dribble scorer and competent release valve, but it remains to be seen if the team will be a fit for him. Like T.J. Warren, he rarely passes on drives, raising questions as to whether the offense will get sticky, and he’ll likely have less space to attack with multiple bigs on the floor than he did within James Borrego’s free-flowing offense, but adding Malcolm Brogdon’s efficiency at point should mitigate some of those concerns.
Overall, Lamb gives the Pacers another toy to play with, but also another mouth to feed.