In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will profiled in this space and, in this installment, we take a glance at Vermont forward Anthony Lamb.
College basketball aficionados likely recognize the name Anthony Lamb, with the Vermont forward leading one of the best mid-major teams in the country in recent years. As a junior in 2018-19, Lamb was fantastic, earning unanimous player of the year honors in the America East Conference and garnering enough recognition that he elected to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft despite having a year of additional eligibility. Ultimately, Lamb returned to Vermont for one final run but, after a season that saw some struggles, on and off the court, his NBA Draft stock is interesting to monitor.
At his apex, Lamb put together an intriguing statistical profile during his aforementioned junior season. The 6’6, 225-pound forward averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 2018-19, posting a 60.6 percent true shooting and a sky-high 33.7 PER. It has to be noted that the competition level in the America East isn’t comparable to a major conference but, in short, Lamb earned notoriety by dominating on the floor.
While that season was easily his best at the college level, Lamb was already established as an efficient scoring threat as a freshman and sophomore, making his senior-year struggles even more of an outlier. Lamb has been very open about his mental health struggles — reading a profile of Lamb from CBS Sports would be a wise choice — but his stock has dipped a bit after his senior performance.
Lamb posted perfectly adequate counting stats and he was still the best player on the best team in the America East in 2019-20. However, his efficiency dropped markedly, headlined by a 52.7 percent true shooting, and Lamb got to the rim less, opting for more three-point attempts. In terms of his ultimate NBA destiny, that decision may have been warranted but, unfortunately, the results simply weren’t there, as Lamb connected on only 29.3 percent of his long-range offerings.
After withdrawing from the 2019 draft, Lamb shared that NBA teams provided feedback that he needed to develop as an off-ball player. That isn’t a shock due to his perch as the “go-to” guy for a very good team but, to put it plainly, Lamb’s path to professional success needs to include role player tendencies.
Given his size and physicality, it is possible that Lamb could hold up when defending forwards and he’ll need to prove that he can do so. He is a fairly limited athlete, leaving some uncertainty as to his true position in an NBA context, and Lamb’s path to a role needs to include an uptick in his overall defensive effectiveness.
Offensively, Lamb is a proven scorer at all three levels, using a rare combination of post acumen and mid-range marksmanship. With that said, Lamb hasn’t had to deal with NBA length and athleticism on a regular basis and, as noted previously, he simply isn’t going to be given the “all you can eat” opportunities to score as a primary initiator.
Lamb is a quality free throw shooter, knocking down 79.3 percent of his attempts in the last three seasons combined, and he does have some pedigree as a shooter. Overall, the “3-and-D” descriptor is often overused but it exists for a reason. Lamb does have the stature and basketball IQ/feel to hold up defensively, but he will need to thread the needle in terms of making enough shots and becoming an adequate (or better) defender, all while landing in a situation that will accentuate his gifts.
The 22-year-old will absolutely have to prove to teams that he can provide spacing to garner draft consideration, though, and he seems to be headed for a late second-round perch or an undrafted situation in which he might be in search of a Two-Way contract or a training camp invite.