UCLA Basketball: Broken Down, featuring Tyler Lamb


With the UCLA’s basketball season around the corner (read: a long-ass time away), we thought it’d be nice to break down each player set to become a major contributor — or, at least, should be a major contributor — this upcoming year. We’ll review the kind of year they had this year, and we’ll discuss the kind of improvement (or, God forbid, regression) we’ll see in the player this year. 

Our second up? Guard Tyler Lamb. 

Tyler, Tyler, Tyler.

In all honesty, I didn’t get much of a shot at scouting Tyler Lamb, or the rest of the UCLA guards. Most of my time spent watching UCLA basketball was done passively, before I started to get into blogging about UCLA athletics. In fact, pretty much every time I seen a UCLA backcourt player touch the ball, I was almost certainly screaming in frustration. At who, I wasn’t sure, but I was screaming.

That said, I did notice some things.

Tyler Lamb, in his sophomore year last season, didn’t have a horrible year. In 2011-12, both his minutes and field goal percentage went up significantly, and he was one of — if not, the only — semblance of a presence in the UCLA backcourt.

And given that he was pretty damn inconsistent? That’s not saying much.

Because, oh my, was Tyler inconsistent. Throughout the season, there were a total of nine times that Tyler Lamb followed up nearly-45-percent shooting nights with sub-35 percent slumps. Of the 33 games he played, Lamb shot below 40 percent 17 times, but also shot above 50 percent 11 times, and this is while taking nearly eight shots per game. To get a visual image of just how inconsistent Lamb was, we suggest you check out this chart. If you look carefully, it looks like your heart rate on a cardiac monitor at a hospital while watching UCLA basketball last season. It’s that bad.

Defensively? Lamb wasn’t so bad. He wasn’t a shutdown defender, but he was consistently the guy who hustled for steals and poked balls away pretty often.

So the verdict, it seems, is that Tyler Lamb really shouldn’t have been a starting guard for this UCLA team. Sure, he was the best guard UCLA had at the time, but the fact that we were so devoid of talent at the guard position that Lamb was our only player worth praising? That’s not good.

With the talent UCLA is to bring in next year, Tyler Lamb will be set up to succeed, we’re sure. Lamb won’t have to carry UCLA’s piss-poor offensive perimeter game like he had to last season, and he’ll be relegated to being a key contributor off the bench. With a line-up that looks a lot like Larry Drew/Shabazz Muhammad/Kyle Anderson/Tony Parker/Josh Smith right now, a second unit consisting of Lamb, Norman Powell, the Wear Twins and Jordan Adams (or any combination involving Anthony Stover and, if we land him, Savon Goodman) will be pretty damn potent with Lamb being the primary scoring threat, and possibly the main sixth man for UCLA.

People can thrash UCLA’s line-up last season all they want, but with the starting line-up being totally reformed, and that 19-win core  (that got beaten up by the media, and deservedly so) being largely relegated to “key bench player” roles, a guy like Tyler Lamb coming off the bench smells a lot like a legitimate season to us.