The whole point of the NBA draft is for teams to select young players they hope will play a role in the future of the franchise. Some players go on to become immediate stars, but others aren't so lucky. For some reason or another, be it a star in front of them or needing to learn the ins and outs of the NBA game, these young men wind up on the bench and only receive limited minutes.
While it is important that their transition to the NBA be smooth, rookies that ride the pine aren't doing their team any favors by not playing. They were selected for a reason, and the best way for most of them to improve their respective games is to actually play. Unfortunately, not many coaches share the same opinion.
That isn't to say that some rookies this season haven't produced in limited minutes. Andre Drummond (pictured) plays tough defense no matter how long he's on the court, and his future is looking brighter with each passing day.
His fellow rookies, however, could soon either be phased out of the league or unfairly labeled as busts if they don't start producing soon. It's time for them to get some more playing time, and not a moment too soon.
Drummond is only averaging 16.4 minutes per game, but his totals are actually decent. He is averaging 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, and his performance over his last five games has been improved. The playing time is just a bit longer, up to 18.8 minutes, and the rebounding has risen to 7.8.
For some reason or another, Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank has opted to keep Drummond on the bench. It's understandable since Drummond is only 19 and still has a lot to learn, but is the undersized Jason Maxiell really more suited to start?
Keep in mind, Maxiell is 6'7", 260 pounds to Drummond's 6'10", 270 pounds. The size and strength differences are uncanny, and there is really no reason that Drummond shouldn't see extended time at either power forward or center.
Throw in the fact that Detroit also has a talented center in Greg Monroe, and the Pistons are only cheating themselves by not rolling the dice on what could become an absolutely deadly frontcourt.
Henson only averages 12.4 minutes, and it's understandable why. He has the height for his position at 6'11", but is way too skinny at 220 pounds. Before going hard under the basket on a regular basis, he needs to spend some time in the weight room and put on some muscle.
Still, Henson gave fans and Bucks management a taste of his full potential in Milwaukee's overtime loss against the defending champion Miami Heat. The former Tar Heel had 17 points and a whopping 18 rebounds. I'm sorry, but those numbers are not a fluke, particularly against the deep and experienced Heat.
Henson played 27 minutes that night, but has only logged 16 since. With Ersan Ilyasova struggling, head coach Scott Skiles has little to lose in starting his rookie power forward and keeping him in the game for at least two games. Worse-case scenario, Henson goes back to the bench and provides solid length off the pine.
Best case scenario, he becomes the Bucks' big man of the future.
Ross scored 19 points in 36 minutes in his team's recent loss to the Houston Rockets, but has only averaged 13.8 minutes per game for the season. This is understandable since the Toronto Raptors already have the talented DeMar DeRozan starting at shooting guard, but it should be noted that the team also needs help at small forward. Though his best skill is his scoring, Ross actually averaged 6.3 rebounds per game last season at the University of Washington.
His playing time has gradually increased each of the past four games, but what's going to happen once Landry Fields and Alan Anderson come back from their injuries? Ross is likely going to be buried at the end of the bench again.
Instead, Dwane Casey should roll the dice and start Ross at small forward for just one game. It's an experiment that could easily backfire, but it also carries the chance of being a genius move.
The fact remains that Ross can score points, and the 3-12 Raptors need all the help they can get in every way, shape and form. Letting Ross and his natural scoring touch is a big first step in the right direction, and the results will reflect in the standings.
Until Al Harrington comes back, the Magic need a strong forward who can both play under the basket and also stretch the floor. They drafted this very type of player in Nicholson, who led St. Bonaventure to an Atlantic 10 championship and the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in his senior season.
Orlando is hurting for scoring and defense now that Dwight Howard is gone, but Nicholson has remained a benchwarmer. He is averaging 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game, but coach Jacque Vaughn has kept on giving the ineffective Josh McRoberts more playing time.
It's clear that Nicholson is not only a better option than McRoberts, but also has much more of a future. Orlando drafted him to be part of its future, so it's time that Vaughn saw the talent his rookie forward has and make him part of the regular rotation. In doing so, he will ensure a smoother transition for the Magic so that their future is indeed bright.
Thomas Robinson is 6'10", 237 pounds and has the potential to become a versatile power forward in the same mold as Amar'e Stoudemire. He can score from any spot on the court, and also rebound very well. In his senior year at Kansas, he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.
The Sacramento Kings took him with the fifth pick, but have yet to give him significant playing time. He is only averaging 15.6 minutes per game and just 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Granted, the Kings have a talented power forward in Jason Thompson, but his work is limited to the paint. Robinson gives the team someone who can stretch the floor and also be a fine rebounder. Yet for some reason or another, coach Keith Smart chooses not to give him significant minutes.
That isn't to say that Robinson will be an immediate star if he gets an increase in playing time. Like every rookie, he needs to adapt.
Still, with a new arena potentially on the way, Sacramento needs to start playing well, and soon. This means letting Robinson play a bigger role in the offense, even if the initial transition is ugly.
In his sole season at St. John's, Harkless averaged 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 15th pick, but then was traded to the Orlando Magic as part of the Dwight Howard trade.
In Orlando, he has struggled. Harkless has averaged just 16.5 minutes per game and is posting just 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds. Granted, he's 19 and has time to right the ship, but the Magic are now without a star player and need results from the youngsters.
It doesn't help Harkless' case that in the three games in which he has gotten 20 minutes or more of playing time this season, he has only scored a total of 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Those numbers are ugly, but it's clear that Harkless still has talent and is a fine athlete.
If anything, Vaughn needs to give him more playing time just so that his adjustment can occur quickly and smoothly. Once he knows what to expect on the NBA level, the progress will be obvious.
The tale of Royce White is an interesting one. He has the size at 6'8", 260 pounds to become a fine defensive forward in the NBA, but has yet to appear in a game this season and has not joined his Houston Rockets teammates for workouts recently.
White suffers from an anxiety disorder and has called out team management for being "inconsistent" in helping him cope with it. He has been demoted to the D-League, but did not report, and his future with the team is uncertain.
The fact of the matter is that White is just too talented for his NBA career to end before it has even begun. Whatever his issues with Houston are, the front office needs to address them and provide a relaxed and welcoming environment for the former Iowa State Cyclone.
White just needs to get his playing time, and Rockets GM Daryl Morey will be reminded of why he drafted this young man. On the court, his talents will speak for themselves and help turn the Rockets back into a powerhouse.
All that needs to happen is for team management to give him a chance.
Jenkins was a star shooter at Vanderbilt, averaging 16.8 points and shooting an astounding 44 percent from long range in three years. Atlanta drafted him near the end of the first round, and the Joe Johnson trade made it appear as though he would see significant time on the court.
Instead, Jenkins has barely played at all. He has only appeared in four games and is averaging 3.3 minutes per game. The man can clearly score points, so the fact that coach Larry Drew is keeping him on the bench is puzzling.
Devin Harris has instead received a majority of the playing time at shooting guard, and he has struggled terribly. He is averaging 20.3 minutes per game, but just 6.2 points at just 40 percent from the field. Anthony Morrow hasn't been much better, averaging 5.6 points at 45 percent in 12.7 minutes.
Atlanta could use another scorer in the lineup, and it's unclear as to why Jenkins has yet to receive significant minutes. He can inject some life into an offense that currently ranks 19th in the league, so why not take a chance?
Terrence Jones has so much talent for a forward, but the Rockets' coaching staff just won't put him in any games. He can rebound, play lockdown defense, dunk and also has a nice jump shot, but just doesn't get minutes.
Jones has appeared in only six games this season, posting 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 11.7 minutes. He performed well in the preseason and is a great athlete, so the fact that he has not made an impact in the NBA just seems like an instance of the coaching staff liking certain players better.
Granted, the Rockets play a run-and-gun game and Jones' playing style isn't really suited for that, but he deserves an opportunity to get good minutes and learn the system from the ground up. He's only 20, so he has plenty of time left to make a name for himself.
If certain trends hold up, however, it probably won't be in Houston.