Culture of Hoops

Family’s love for basketball propels Orlando Magic’s Doron Lamb

Image courtesy of Bryan Horowitz/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Bryan Horowitz/Flickr.

When the Orlando Magic traded fan favorite J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks, it seemed as though the return general manager Rob Hennigan had gotten was not one of real value to the Magic. In the deal, Orlando flipped Redick and big man Gustavo Ayon to the Bucks for guard Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb, and versatile forward Tobias Harris. The team also sent forward Josh McRoberts to the Charlotte Bobcats for the high-flying Hakim Warrick, whom the team swiftly waived.

Over a year later and the Magic look like the clear winners of the deal. Harris proved his value immediately, averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 27 games with the rebuilding Magic last season. While he’s dealt with a nagging ankle injury for much of this season, he’s still been one of the team’s most productive players, averaging 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, which ranks him second on the team in both categories.

On the other hand, Lamb hasn’t truly found his full-time spot in the rotation. He’s battled for minutes ever since his arrival, but has begun to see an increase in minutes as his second NBA season has worn on. Since the All-Star break, Lamb’s production has increased almost across the board.

Since he was a young buck, Lamb has been a hard worker. He recently told stories about how his father, Calvin Lamb, would make a young Doron, either five or six years old, dribble two blocks if he wanted to go to the supermarket with him. Oh, he made him dribble with his less dominant left hand as well, and if his right hand touched the ball? He’d have to repeat the entire process.

Lamb went on to talk about how his father would make him knock down “100 or 200” shots before he was allowed to head upstairs. When asked who taught him to shoot, Lamb chuckled and said, “I think my dad. My dad could shoot, so he taught me ‘keep working hard and keep getting better.’”

Luckily for Lamb, it wasn’t only his father who was into basketball. His mom was also into the game and helped him with his dribble some more.

“My mom was into basketball as well,” Lamb said. “She had me dribbling around cones and stuff like that, but it was once in a blue moon she would do that.”

While his parents have had an impact, Lamb knows that if he wants to stay in the league, he’s got to continue to improve on his own. While his shot will keep him around for now, if he doesn’t improve his all-around game, he might not be in Orlando much longer. When asked what he needs to work on, Lamb said, “My ball handling. My defense. I think everything really, just need to get everything better for next year. Try to just work hard.”

The Kentucky product has shown the ability to be a knock-down shooter, most recently in the Magic’s ugly loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In that game, Lamb posted 14 points, including three three-pointers. After the game, head coach Jacque Vaughn was very complimentary of Lamb, telling reporters, “I think overall he was, really first of all, sprinting the floor to get to his spots so he was ready. His shot preparation was really good tonight. I think our penetration, our bigs rolling to the rim made them react a little bit and he got some open shots. He’s done a good job of getting better every day in practice and good minutes for him tonight.”

The good performances have been balanced out by some bad ones as well, however. He’s struggled at times to knock down his shot consistently, which has inevitably cost him minutes as the season has worn on. Lamb still has some polishing to do to his game, but with the time and right coaching, it seems inevitable he will be able to improve.

Lamb doesn’t let himself get down, however, and he knows what his role on this team is.

“My role with this team is to make open shots, and make plays for my teammates,” Lamb said.

The former second round pick also told reporters that he’s been getting up and making a lot of shots during, before and after practice and that it’s “really helping out.”

Lamb was asked where his future in this league is, to which he had this to say: “I hope it’s here; I want to be here for my career.” Lamb has one year left on his rookie deal, which is fully unguaranteed. However, the deal becomes fully guaranteed if he isn’t waived on or before July 1, according to Shamsports’ salary database.

With his second season winding down, it’s clear that Lamb knows he must continue to evolve his game if he wants to stick around in this league, whether that be in Orlando or elsewhere. However, one thing is for sure; when things are all said and done and he hangs his sneakers up for the final time, he can thank two people immensely for his love and foundation in this great game: his mom and dad.

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