Ranking the NBA's Worst Rookie Busts of the 2012-13 Season
A lot of the young fellas (see: Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond) make this look easy.
Realistically, though, the life of a rookie in the NBA is harsh.
Moving closer to All-Star Weekend, it's becoming clearer which 2012 lottery picks have been early disappointments.
Perspective is everything in a league that requires growth, especially for young players. While it's still too early to label any of these rookies busts just yet, it's possible to determine which guys have been busts thus far.
The following top rookies have all been disappointments.
Note: All stats accurate as of December 31, 2012
5. Kendall Marshall
Kendall Marshall: No. 13 overall by the Phoenix Suns
College: North Carolina
2011-12 College Stats: 8.1 points (46.7 percent shooting) and 9.8 assists per game
2012-13 NBA Stats: 0.9 points (27.3 percent shooting) and 0.8 assists per game in 5.8 minutes per game
Bust Factor: Marshall isn't part of the Phoenix Suns' rotation, and for good reason when you look at those numbers.
He wasn't drafted due to his numbers in college, but rather for his size and athleticism at the point guard position. He's a natural passer and there's little doubt he can facilitate an offense when given routine minutes.
But guards have to be able to shoot in this league. Given the opportunity, Marshall needs to prove himself as a capable scorer.
He spent nine games earlier this season with Phoenix's NBA D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, where he has scored 9.6 points on 31.3 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent from three-point range in 30.9 minutes per game.
In four games during the Las Vegas Summer League, Marshall shot just 31 percent in averaging 7.1 points to go along with his 6.5 assists per game.
If Marshall can't improve his shooting, he won't crack an NBA rotation.
Note: Marshall is the lone lottery pick in this category who hasn't been given a significant role with his team. This is the major reason he isn't slotted higher in these bust rankings.
It also wouldn't have been fair to place Jeremy Lamb on this list. The poor guy was drafted to a good situation with Houston but was then immediately shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the James Harden deal. The Thunder, one of the best teams in basketball, aren't likely to spend many minutes developing a rookie guard.
Lamb hasn't been given much opportunity with the Thunder, playing only 3.9 minutes per game in 12 appearances. But during a stint with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League, he led the team with 23.0 points per game.
4. Meyers Leonard
Meyers Leonard: No. 11 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers
2011-12 College Stats: 13.6 points (58.4 percent shooting), 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game
2012-13 NBA Stats: 4.7 points (54.6 percent shooting), 3.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game in 16.6 minutes per game
Bust factor: Behind the frontcourt of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson, Leonard isn't seeing big minutes just yet. Overshadowed by the outstanding play of rookie point guard Damian Lillard, Leonard has a much greater learning curve as a rookie big man.
His poor defense down low has not earned him any extra playing time and, offensively, you won't see the seven-footer dazzle with post moves any time soon.
Still, it's about perspective. Leonard is incredibly young and has good energy on the floor. His shooting percentage is incredibly high for a rookie big man.
As of now, though, he has much left to prove.
3. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal: No. 3 overall by the Washington Wizards
2011-12 College Stats: 14.8 points (44.5 percent shooting, 33.9 three-point shooting percentage), 2.2 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game
2012-13 NBA Stats: 12.1 points (35.3 percent shooting, 26.9 three-point shooting), 2.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 30.0 minutes per game
Bust factor: It confuses me every time I hear positive reviews of Beal's rookie season. He's listed as the fourth-best rookie by NBA.com's most recent Rookie Ladder.
He entered the draft as a highly touted shooter with above-average athleticism. He has the potential to grow into a quality defender with his 6'7" wingspan, but in the Association, he is not looking like the marksman Washington wished it was getting with its top-three pick.
Beal only shot 33.9 percent from three-point range in Florida, and he's seven percentage points lower than that with the Wizards.
The Wiz didn't draft Beal to be John Wall. They just wanted Wall to have a capable backcourt partner.
Beal has not shown the ability to consistently serve that purpose through two months.
2. Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson: No. 5 overall by the Sacramento Kings
2011-12 College Stats: 17.7 points (50.5 percent shooting) and 11.9 rebounds per game
2012-13 NBA Stats: 4.5 points (40.9 percent shooting) and 4.0 rebounds per game in 15.8 minutes per game
Bust factor: Why is this such a typical Sacramento outcome?
Robinson was taken as the "safe pick" by a team that desperately needed an impact player. The Kings, like other franchises, had Robinson high on their board. When he fell to them, they couldn't pass.
Robinson was supposed to boost a frontcourt that already featured young big man DeMarcus Cousins.
The Kings passed on Damian Lillard, as they felt comfortable with Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks at point guard and had not yet determined whether they were going to end their relationship with Tyreke Evans.
The team also opted to not fill a glaring hole at small forward and passed on Harrison Barnes. So far, that looks to be a mistake.
The biggest reason for concern about Robinson's game entering the draft was that he wasn't truly great at any one offensive skill. His post game still needs plenty of work, and the Kings haven't proven able to develop that ability for any of their young players.
Like Cousins, Robinson is also not a shot-blocker, which hasn't helped the Kings' interior defense that allows 41.5 points per game in the paint.
With a 5.8 efficiency rating (the worst of all the lottery picks), Robinson doesn't appear to be anything special for a struggling Sacramento franchise.
1. Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers: No. 10 overall by the New Orleans Hornets
2011-12 College Stats: 15.5 points (43.3 percent shooting) and 2.1 assists per game
2012-13 NBA Stats: 7.6 points (34.9 percent) and 2.6 assists in 28.1 minutes per game
Bust factor: Rookie guards don't always make a splash right away. Stars like Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo are perfect examples of that.
But Rivers has been an undeniable disappointment in the first fraction of his NBA career. He has a smaller-than-average frame at shooting guard and, at just 20 years old, has much to learn about being an offensive threat.
Rivers has shown signs of being the crafty attacker that he was in high school and in college, but often times, that tunnel vision is what limits Rivers in the NBA. The lane crowds much faster at this level.
And a slasher who can't consistently get to the basket is going to struggle with his shooting percentage.
Rivers is being humbled right now as he learns to move the ball, defend and rebound.
Doc's son has a long way to go.
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