8 NBA Rookies Not Living Up to Their Draft Status
Coming up on the NBA All-Star break, we're starting to get a vague outline of which rookies may end up being busts. It's too early to form any truly definitive conclusions, but the eight NBA rookies included in this slideshow have disappointed, whether it be due to mediocre play or to just not receiving minutes.
There are always certain expectations from lottery picks, and five of the eight players in this slideshow were taken in the first 14 picks of the 2012 NBA draft.
Perry Jones III (No. 28 Overall)
It's strange to say there was a lot of hype for a No. 28 overall pick, but in Perry Jones III's case, there actually was. Throngs of NBA analysts and fans were quick to proclaim Jones as a sleeper candidate and a guy who just flat-out never should have slipped.
Whether this notion will eventually be proven true is anyone's guess. Jones has seen just 121 minutes at the NBA level, and the numbers he's put up are inconclusive (and uninspiring).
Jones is shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and averaging 9.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. His PER is just 4.5. Yes, it's just a small sample size, but it doesn't bode well, does it?
John Jenkins (No. 23 Overall)
John Jenkins shot an airball that fell about five feet short of the goal against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 14th (in that game, the Hawks tied the second-worst scoring night in NBA history—since the shot clock inception). It was one of the worst attempts at a jumper I'd seen in my 22 years of watching NBA basketball.
Jenkins is shooting 42.2 percent from the floor and a pretty respectable 38.8 percent from three-point land, but that shot alone scared me.
His PER is just 10.5, so indications are that he isn't stacking up as a shooting guard, though given his 11.2 minutes per game over 29 NBA contests, it's hard to form any really concrete conclusions yet. Jenkins just hasn't wooed anyone with what was supposed to be a dangerous jumper.
Royce White (No. 16 Overall)
Royce White has disappointed a lot of people this year, and the situation is so sticky it's something I've skirted writing about all year. It's kind of one of those things that has to continually be rehashed, but there's plenty of it on the Internet (like this from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski—an article that prompted White himself to lash out).
The sad thing is, other than sprinkles of preseason action, we've yet to receive any real hints at what the future holds for White's diverse skill set.
I hope he can cope with his anxiety, overcome his fears of flying and some day play in the NBA.
Kendall Marshall (No. 13 Overall)
The real knock on Kendall Marshall coming out of North Carolina was that he couldn't shoot the ball well enough. That has continued to be the case, as he shot just 31 percent in the D-League, where he was assigned to play in November. While his progress has been slow, former Suns coach Alvin Gentry believes that Marshall has a future in the league.
Gentry told Arizona Sports that "as a coach improving in the shooting is the least of your worries because it's something that everybody's gotten better at over the course of years in the NBA."
That's true often. The list of players that have obtained jumpers through hard work in the offseason is long enough to produce a top-50 slideshow of "Guys Who Gained a J." Jason Kidd is the most shining example from the point-guard position.
If Marshall can add a "J" to his arsenal, the rest of his skill set would do the work. But not everyone is as talented as Rajon Rondo, who was able to persist for years before he, too, added a jumper.
So, if Marshall is as good as Gentry believes he is, the jumper should fix the only part broken on the car. Marshall has played just 67 minutes in the NBA.
Jeremy Lamb (No. 12 Overall)
It's not really Jeremy Lamb's fault that he hasn't lived up to the hype. Had he remained in Houston, he likely would have seen some time backing up Kevin Martin and had a productive rookie season. Instead, he found himself becoming the third-/fourth-string shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The result is that Lamb has seen just 64 minutes all season. That small sample size is hardly even worth analyzing for statistical relevance and value, so the "Incomplete" that Lamb would be graded thus far registers as a true disappointment.
Again: It's not really Lamb's fault he isn't getting minutes, but he can't fulfill the expectations that accompany being a lottery pick when he's shot 28 field goals all season.
Lamb spent time in the D-League for the Tulsa 66ers and initially wasn't thrilled at the prospect, saying that he felt it was a disappointment when he was drafted to play in the NBA. NBA.com blogger Fran Blinebury reported that he later said he "understood the value and it made a lot of sense."
It's good to see Lamb growing as a person and as a player, and the jury is definitely still out on his star potential given his limited minutes, but that doesn't save him from inclusion in this slideshow.
Meyers Leonard (No. 11 Overall)
Before the season started, John Hollinger of ESPN wrote (subscription required) that "statistically, the only number that makes him a lottery pick is 7-1...ordinary rebound and blocked-shot rates for a college center."
Well, nothing has changed there. Leonard is averaging a very uninspiring line despite his frame, posting just 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per 36. About the only thing he's done remarkably well is shoot free throws. (He's hitting a guard-like 85 percent from the charity stripe.)
Leonard has found himself relegated to fringe backup minutes because J.J. Hickson is having a phenomenal year and the Blazers have used Hickson at the 5.
Coming into the season, many depth charts listed Leonard as the starting center, but that just hasn't worked out due to his rather mediocre post game and overall rawness.
Leonard still needs more time in the weight room and some legitimate tutoring from a former NBA big man. (The "Hoops Whisperer," Hakeem Olajuwon, seems to only accept clients with a ton of potential.) If Leonard could utilize the god-given gift of being a legit 7'1", then maybe he would justify that lottery pick.
But as Hollinger forecasted prior to the season, it didn't do him much good in college, so why would it in the NBA?
Austin Rivers (No. 10 Overall)
Austin Rivers really should have stayed in school another year; he just hasn't been ready for NBA competition, and he's struggled mightily with his shot all season. Rivers is shooting just 34.1 percent from the floor and a hair over 30 percent from behind the arc.
Most perplexing of all is that Rivers, who wasn't really a good free-throw shooter at Duke (65 percent) has been atrocious from the line in the pros, hitting just 54.7 percent of his tries.
That is downright disgusting from a guard, never mind one that is supposed to be considered a shooter and a scorer. Another year at the NCAA level definitely would have allowed Rivers to work more heavily on his fundamentals, which seem to be lacking, despite his pedigree.
Thomas Robinson (No. 5 Overall)
It would be easy to call Thomas Robinson a disappointment in light of the fact that he averages just five points and under five rebounds per game. However, Robinson has improved his play throughout the season, and his per-minute production isn't bad. Per 36, Robinson posts 11.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and over one steal and one block.
Reasonably, Robinson still projects to be a starter in a few seasons' time. He's athletic, and other than being a bit of a tweener as a forward, he has a lot of favorable traits to thrive at the NBA level, including good instinct offensively and a great motor.
It's just that thus far it has translated to only 16 minutes a game on a Kings team that's high on talent and low on wins. The Kansas forward will have a more prominent role eventually, but he hasn't received the kind of burn that typical top-five picks receive.
Robinson has posted three double-doubles this season and had a 12-point, 14-rebound performance against Phoenix on Jan. 23, so the potential to be a real player down the line is there.
He's also thrown down a number of show-stopping highlights (see video). We've seen flashes; now we just have to determine whether they are flashes in the pan or real silver.
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