2020 Draft Age: 22.7
Measurements: 6’6″ 227, wingspan (6’11”) reported
Before UVM, Anthony Lamb had put together a very impressive body of work at Greece Athena High School. As a senior he averaged 30 points and 17 rebounds per game and was named a finalist for New York’s Mr. Basketball Award. Recruited by many mid-major programs, Lamb was listed as a three-star prospect by ESPN.
Despite a statistical regression in his senior year at UVM, a year riddled with early hamstring injuries, Lamb was named a top ten finalist for the 2020 Julius Erving award, an award given to the top college small forward. Adding to his list of accomplishments he was also a two-time America East Player during the 2018-19 and 19-20 seasons. With increased minutes during his junior and senior seasons, Lamb led UVM in points, rebounds and blocks during both years.
Over his four years at UVM, Lamb and the Catamounts had an extremely impressive .80 win percentage and .92 conference win percentage. Most of UVM’s losses with Lamb came in closely contested games against competition from Big East, ACC, SEC, and AAC competition. Of his 118 games at UVM, Lamb was only a part of eight double-digit losses.
The Catamounts saw two March Madness appearances during Lamb’s career, both times they ranked as the 13 seed and lost in the first round. Despite a 2019-20 cancellation the Catamounts were projected to make the tournament for a third time in Lamb’s career. The only time UVM failed to make the tournament came during the 2017-18 season where Lamb missed the second half of the year due to a broken left foot.
Lamb’s most recent injury, a hamstring strain, came in October of 2019, and reportedly lingered with him throughout the 2019-20 season. An Athletic article by Brian Bennett noted how his hamstring pains lasted from at least October to January, reportedly causing him to miss practice time and hindering his on-court performance. During the 2017-18 season, Lamb suffered a broken left foot which forced him to miss close to half of his Sophomore season. There are no reported high school injuries.
As UVM’s co-captain, on the floor Lamb is a vocal leader who plays with visible passion and desire to win. Expressive at times, Lamb is an on-court leader and he is always in constant verbal communication with his teammates. His desire to win dates back to high school, where he led Greece Athena to a number one ranking and a finals appearance. After losses, in high school, he would head directly to the local gym to work on his game. Off the court, Lamb has been an open and outspoken voice on the topic of mental health.
Lamb’s athleticism is a mixed bag. What he gives up with his lack of foot speed on the perimeter, he makes up for with his interior strength. Lamb isn’t an explosive, high upside athlete, but displays hustle on both sides of the floor and has a quick second bounce.
Physical with his box-outs, Lamb is willing to give up his body and draw charges. His strength enables him to guard much taller players. He does a great job of using his chest when guarding them. Lamb is willing to get into the body of guys on offense and knows how to finish with contact.
On defense, when posted up, Lamb understands how to play straight up and does a good job of contesting while not fouling. Lamb is an underrated protector as averaged an impressive 1.9 blocks during the 2018-19 season. His reported 6’11” wingspan and quick bounce off the floor helped him contest shots at the rim. Despite being only 6’6″, Lamb led UVM in blocks throughout each of his four seasons.
Lamb’s footwork on the perimeter is a slightly different story. He struggles to guard closeouts and occasionally is a step behind when his opponent goes baseline. While at times he exhibits the ability to defend quicker players, to attain P.J. Tucker status of on-ball perimeter defense, Lamb will need to work on being more calculated with his closeouts and more in tune with his lateral east-west slides. Despite his lack of height, at the professional level, Lamb is better suited, guarding up a position at the four rather than facing up against traditional twos or threes.
- High: Lower-Usage Rotation NBA Bench Stretch Big – Initial Two-Way Contract / Lower Tier Rotation
Anthony Lamb’s heliocentric playstyle was the focal point of UVM’s offense. While he struggled with his shot last season, Lamb commanded attention and at times a double team from opponents.
During his four seasons at UVM, Lamb’s usage rate never dipped below 30%. While 30% of his possessions came from spot-up looks last season, Lamb was closely contested on a lot of these looks, as we’ve yet to see him as a true off-ball floor spacer.
On spot-up three-pointers, last season, Lamb was guarded on 63% of these shots. To take the next initial step at the NBA level Lamb will need to sacrifice his high scoring, shoot-first play-style, and accept a lower usage position as a stretch wing. Off the ball, Lamb will need to replicate his 2018-19 performance where he shot 40.5% on guarded three-point stop up looks (42 attempts) and 39.3% on all spot-up three’s (61 attempts).
Lamb seems understanding of this initial sacrifice. He mentioned in a recent interview with HoopsHype, how lately he’s been watching a lot of P.J. Tucker footage in light of recent comparisons. To get to this level, on the defensive side of the floor, Lamb needs to drastically improve his lateral footspeed on the perimeter. Another initial comparison, from a physical profile and also playstyle standpoint would be Utah’s Georges Niang, who made the needed college-to-pro transition from a high usage offensive focal point to a spot-up four.
- Medium: High Usage Overseas Scoring Stretch Four/Five – High-Mid Tier Overseas Scorer, with Possible Late Career Return NBA/ G-League
A practical scenario for Lamb, at the next level, would be an initial start as an overseas stretch big with the possibility of a later NBA return date. Given the amount of time he spent with the ball in his hands (21.7% in the post, 9.6% in isolation last season), Lamb would likely get more touches overseas. He could replicate slightly more of his offensive game at UVM by accepting a higher usage role. This scenario would also play into Lamb’s strengths and may be the most practical course of action. Many players, including P.J. Tucker took this route, as it can pay dividends to get on-court experience early-on in one’s career.
- Low: Mid-Tier Usage Secondary/Tertiary Overseas Scoring Stretch Wing/Big, – Career International, Secondary Scorer, G League Career Player
Despite injury history in college, Lamb is a fairly low-risk player as teams know what they are getting with his offensive skill set. If Lamb fails to secure an initial NBA rotation spot or two-way deal, look for him to slot into a secondary or tertiary scoring role. He would still get looks to create for himself but on a slightly lower usage rate, along the lines of Khris Middleton but in the international realm. Lamb would have the opportunity to hone in on perimeter defensive shortcomings and blossom into more of a two-way player, one capable of guarding the international two through five spots. His scoring and rebounding ability alone would make him an instant impact player in the international game.
Projected Draft Landing:
Late Second Round – Undrafted
- Creation in Isolation as the Offensive Hub
Lamb is the type of player who can make something out of nothing. With a very high usage rate for a wing (low 30’s for his entire career), Lamb shouldered the brunt of UVM’s offensive load. To mimic a probable NBA role, Lamb took a step back from being a more one-on-one player during his senior season, as he got fewer isolation and post-up looks when compared to his junior year. Lamb was still elite with the ball in his hands as he ranked in the 94th percentile in isolation scoring both years (junior and senior). Lamb also does a great job of drawing enough contact on his turnaround to warrant the foul call. While Lamb wasn’t as efficient in the post, ranking in the 77th percentile during his junior year and in the 55th during his senior season, teams occasionally brought over an extra help defender in an attempt to stifle his drives to the basket. While he is perhaps a tunnel vision scorer and nowhere near a pass-first playmaker, at times, he’s demonstrated the ability to pass out of the post and hit the open floor spacers on cross-court looks. Lamb also appeared to have improved his footspeed from his junior to senior season, especially off the catch.
Offensive hub. MOV
- Shooting Mechanics (Potential Floor Spacer)
Despite struggling from beyond the arc during his senior season, Lamb displayed great mechanics and elevation on his shot. Alongside his finishing skills, Lamb’s shot is very polished as he is very aggressive when hunting his shot and getting to his spots. His best quality as a shooter comes with his ability to get his shot off in limited space.
Lamb’s shooting stroke translates to the free-throw line, which is a good sign. He never shot below 74% during his time at UVM, converting 81% from the free-throw line on 4.8 attempts per game during his senior season.
Lamb’s outside shooting dropoff between his junior and senior season is something to examine. One could attribute Lamb’s overall scoring dip to several different variables. Coach, John Becker, noted early on this past season that he wanted to use Lamb as more of an off-ball threat while he was dealing with nagging hamstring issues. Even with a slightly decreased role on offense, Lamb’s usage rate during his senior season didn’t drop that much (from 32.9 to 30) as he was still very much involved in every aspect of the offense.
Lamb understands he needs to make the transition as more of an off-ball threat as he’s already proven his ability to hit difficult contested shots. The shooting stroke is there — it’s just a matter of finding consistency as a catch and shoot player.
Lamb has a knack for using his body. Not afraid of contact, Lamb has great footwork with a variation of different spin moves. Against smaller players, he has no problem muscling them down low and using his strength to get to his spots. He has a tendency for slowing the game down and is patient with his rim attacks. Off the catch Lamb is also adept when attacking open space as he is capable of drawing fouls on initial drives to the basket.
Lamb likes to operate on either elbow using his powerful first step, pure strength, and versatile finishing package to create opportunities for himself. Capable of hitting tough contested fade-away shots, Lamb seeks contact with his tenacious rip-throughs. While more of a power player, Lamb displays both impressive strength and control when creating space for himself.
- Second Effort
While adept at finishing, Lamb also does an outstanding job cleaning up his misses. While he does not display elite, NBA level leaping ability, he does a good job going after an errant miss. Lamb has a great statistical case for being a quality defensive rebounder, however, his numbers on the offensive glass and putback numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, per Synergy, are below average. Still the eye test shows his innate ability to track down his misses and out-time taller opponents on the offensive glass.
While at times he gambles on offensive rebounds, Lamb’s stick-to-itiveness on the offensive glass, especially with his own misses, is an extremely underrated aspect of his game. He has a quick second bounce and good reaction as he is very aware and locked in on all aspects of the offensive glass and where he needs to be to secure the offensive board.
- Shot profile
Called upon to do a lot of self-imposed creation at UVM, Lamb’s shot profile was more along the lines of a high usage guard than a three-and-d wing. His shot quality suffered and as a result he took many inefficient, long, contested, fade-away midrange looks. Occasionally, when in isolation, Lamb takes the long-foot-on-the-line two pointers rather than stepping completely back to get off a three. To his credit, Lamb converted on a lot of these shots, however, at the next level, these looks will be contested by much tougher competition and therefore deemed unsustainable for prolonged success.
There are hints that Lamb’s game is changing into that of a more modern, less heliocentric wing. He operated more off-ball during his senior season, took fewer overall shots, but at the same time increased his three-point volume. In order for Lamb to succeed at the NBA level, he will need to improve his efficiency off catch and shoot opportunities. During the 2018-19 season, 30% of his shots came from 6-20 feet out. During the 2019-20 season, only 21% of all looks came from this area, again a promising sign for Lamb.
While tough shot making certainly adds to his dimension as a player, look for Lamb to expand his pick-and-pop game in an effort to become more NBA ready.
- Screen Setting
In order to better operate out of the pick and pop action, Lamb needs to become a better screen setter to create space for himself and others. Probably one of the more puzzling aspects of Lamb’s game is his lack of contact on his screens. Despite his physical nature on both ends of the floors, he mainly appears to shy away from contact in this context.
Lamb rarely slips these screens or rolls to the basket. Rather he seems to venture out onto the perimeter or to the elbows to receive the ball after an initial screen. There isn’t much space or separation created from these screens, and this hurts his ability to get off a quality pick and pop shot. On these pick and pop looks, Lamb sometimes hesitates with this initial shot as driving to the basket becomes the more realistic option. He could get more separation when setting inverted ball-screens. At the next level, Lamb will be expected to get a healthy portion of these pick and pop looks, but without a good initial screen, most of them will come with not a lot of shooting space.
With a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio, Lamb was not called upon to be a pass-first playmaker. He shows flashes of playmaking and makes occasional quality cross-court passes, but the ball has a tendency to stick in his hands. While he understands where his shooters are, Lamb seems more focused on getting to his spots first, than making the initial pass. Opponents may be over eager to guard him as he at times drives directly into double teams and fails to anticipate when the help is coming. His cross-court passes are usually on target and well-placed, but occasionally he waits a bit too long to make them. On his drives and post-ups, Lamb causes the defense to collapse, but this collapse usually happens before Lamb is able to fully exploit an overcommit.
- Thinking Like a Floor Spacer
Because he was such a high usage focal point of the offense at UVM, Lamb showed some reluctance to get to his spots quickly, perhaps to conserve energy. He could work on making sharper off-ball perimeter cuts to create more space for himself. Right now, Lamb floats more to these open shooting spots rather than sprint. His doing so occasionally results in tougher passes from his teammates. Lamb prefers to carve out space with his body to get open rather than running to a spot with pace. It also took UVM a while to get him the ball at his spots. Perhaps this was by design, however, there were many instances where Lamb got the ball in shot clock pressurized situations. In keeping with his desire to become a more all around player, there were visible improvements from his junior to senior season in the space finding department. That said, Lamb will need to continue to work at taking more of an initiative when running to open space as this will improve his overall shot quality from beyond the arc.
- Strength and Intelligence Guarding the Post
On countless occasions, Lamb demonstrated exceptional strength with his ability to guard much taller players in the post. Down low, he plays straight up and does an excellent job of both absorbing contact with his chest and not fouling on the shot. Lamb understands where and when to take away passing angles as he will occasionally make the opposing big man catch the ball further out away from the paint. He usually keeps a broad base in the post and fails to give up much ground. Lamb does an excellent job of repositioning his feet, as this helps him anticipate opposing spin moves.
- Smart Interior Shot Contestor
Not known for being an explosive athlete, Lamb displays excellent timing on his contests, especially in the paint. His quick second bounce off the floor allows him to make timely contests at the rim. Against smaller players, Lamb does an excellent job of coming over the top of them, successfully blocking their shots, and also avoiding contact. Primarily a two-foot jumper, Lamb seems to see the play before it happens as he often out-thinks his opponent. It is almost as if he blocks the shot on his way down rather than on his way up. A lot of his successful contests come after absorbing his opponent’s contact, doing an excellent job in keeping both hands high to maintain verticality. Lamb demonstrated good effort as a shot blocker, and averaged almost two blocks per game during his junior year. A capable post defender, Lamb doesn’t shy away from challenging shots at the rim.
- Positioning and boxing out
In line with his physical nature as a defender, Lamb understands the importance of finding his man and applying a sturdy box out. He can move bodies with his physicality and uses his strong base to secure position on the defensive glass. His strong base helps him gain an advantage with his ability to maintain his position as he is attentive with his effort when seeking out a body to box out.
- Interior Help Defense
Physical with his box outs, Lamb is also willing to draw charges. Several of Lamb’s blocks came from weak side rotations where he made the decision of coming over to help.. Lamb will occasionally idle by the basket, but he often does so with strategic intent. He does a decent job of avoiding foul calls as he only fouled out three times during his four years at UVM, all three occasions occurring during his freshman season.
- Perimeter Foot Speed
The majority of Lamb’s defensive shortcomings derive from his lack of agile footwork when defending on the perimeter. Laterally, Lamb struggles with his east-west slides and appears a half to full step behind his opponent after an initial shot or pass fake. At times, Lamb can be completely beaten off the dribble as he struggles when guarding quicker guards or wings on the perimeter. He will occasionally be over physical and foul in an attempt to get back into the play.
- Attention to detail and overeagerness on closeouts
On closeouts, Lamb has a tendency to be overeager, to gamble, and ultimately take himself out of the play. Sometimes, even on the catch, his opponent already has an open driving lane as Lamb needs to be more strategic and conservative with his closeouts on the perimeter. While he does a decent job of not fouling, Lamb needs to exhibit slightly better footwork and judgment on the perimeter. Lamb also needs to understand the space he can afford to give up with these perimeter closeouts.
While scouts may give Anthony Lamb the “big fish in a small pond treatment” for playing at UVM, there are many scalable aspects of his game. He has the potential to become a modern day stretch four. Lamb has shown the ability to score against highly ranked college opponents and hit tough shots over primary defenders. He stands out from the pack with his finishing skills and ability to shoulder a high offensive load. Arguably his most impressive game this season, from a statistical standpoint, came against 7th ranked Virginia where elite on-ball defender Mamadi Diakite guarded him (11 shots). Lamb went 7-14 from beyond the arc, scoring over half of UVM’s total points. While this was an outlier game in terms of offensive output, Lamb also played up to the level against harder competition against ranked and unranked opponents.
Lamb will need to work on molding his game to that of a modern stretch big. This means improving his shot profile, avoiding difficult contested shots, working on creating space for himself as more of an off-ball threat, and also working on his defensive footwork on the perimeter. Given his impressive resumé and offensive skill set, if Anthony Lamb can transition into more of this stretch big, there exists a world where he can contribute on an NBA roster.
Statistics per: InStat, Synergy, Winsadded.com, and Collegereference.com