7 Former Top NBA Draft Picks in Make or Break Situations
At some point, teams need to start seeing results.
Rookies aren't traditionally meant to come in right away and produce. But for the high draft picks, teams expect signs of life by year No. 2.
The following guys are entering year No. 3, 4 or 5. The clock is ticking for these prospects who teams might start viewing as permanently broken.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards
Jan Vesely, the No. 6 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, has done very little in his first two years in Washington.
He went from seeing 19 minutes a game as a rookie to just 12 a game as a sophomore. Vesely's skill set just isn't up to par with regard to NBA-level competition.
As a prospect, we see a 6'11'' athlete who can run the floor and play above the rim. But Vesely hasn't shown the awareness to recognize scoring opportunities, or the shot-creating skills to generate his own offense.
The Wizards are going to have to make a decision shortly regarding Vesely's future. He'll have to put up results in year No. 3 if he wants Washington to pick up his roughly $4 million option.
Ekpe Udoh, Milwaukee Bucks
Ekpe Udoh hasn't made a dent in the NBA since he was drafted No. 6 overall in 2010. Golden State took Udoh with Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Larry Sanders, Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley on the board.
Now a member of the Bucks, Udoh's impact has remained minimal.
He's making over $4 million this year. Udoh will have a tough time making that kind of money next offseason if he doesn't do something to stand out in year No. 4.
We're still not even sure what Udoh's strengths are as a forward. Despite his 6'10'' size, Udoh has never eclipsed the 45-percent shooting mark in any of his three seasons.
He's got defensive purpose, but not enough to make him a very attractive free agent. Udoh will have to add to his offensive game in order to boost his value around the league.
Wesley Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
Wesley Johnson could be fighting for his NBA career this season.
His fourth-year option was not picked up, which could have payed him $5 million in 2013-14. Instead, he was signed by the Lakers for the veteran minimum.
Johnson should get an opportunity to play in Los Angeles. Assuming he's given a clean slate, considering he's been thrust into less-than-ideal settings in Minnesota and Phoenix, Johnson should see some minutes at the 2-guard and wing spots.
He's got a traditional small-forward body and a jumper he's capable of making—he just hasn't done so consistently enough.
However, if Johnson is unable to produce next season, he might be looking for work in another country come 2015. On the bright side, L.A. is a great place for a player hoping to jumpstart his career.
Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns
It's time to put up or shut up for Marcus Morris, who's entering the last guaranteed year of his rookie deal.
Morris was the last pick of the 2011 lottery, when he was chosen just ahead of Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert, Tobias Harris, Kenneth Faried , Reggie Jackson and Jimmy Butler.
After spending time in the D-League and eventually getting dealt to the Suns, Morris has shown the signs of your classic NBA tweener.
A power forward at heart with a small forward's physical tools, Morris has struggled to find a niche offensively.
If he's unable to settle in and find a way to consistently contribute, he'll be entering dangerous territory as an unproven free agent.
Al-Farouq Aminu, New Orleans Pelicans
Al-Farouq Aminu was the eighth pick in the 2010 NBA draft, though you wouldn't think it based on his first few years in the league.
After a year in Los Angeles, Aminu was quickly labeled expendable. The Clippers sent him to New Orleans, where he's now played two years with little to show for it.
He's a high-flying athlete who lacks a refined offensive skill set. One of the traditional requirements of a small forward is being able to stretch the floor and shoot it. Aminu made a total of four three-pointers last year in 76 games playing 27 minutes a night.
If you had to list Aminu's strengths right now, you'd struggle coming up with one that justifies a rotation spot. Unless he finds a way to differentiate himself, Aminu might have trouble generating much interest next offseason.
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
This is a make-or-break year for Jimmer Fredette in terms of his value in this league. Fredette has to prove he can be relied upon for consistent offense off the bench. Guys like that can make around $5 million a year.
Guys who teams view as roster-fillers get one-year deals and veteran minimums.
Right now, Fredette doesn't have backup point-guard credibility. I'm not even sure he has a set identity. He's not a true point guard, and given his lack of size and athleticism, he's unable to score like he did in college.
Fredette has to use this year to improve his consistency as a shot-maker and efficiency as a playmaker.
Hasheem Thabeet, Oklahoma City Thunder
Hasheem Thabeet might have one year left to prove his worth to an NBA franchise.
Despite standing 7'3'', the former No. 2 overall pick has barely made a peep since being drafted in 2009.
The Thunder recently took center Steven Adams in the 2013 draft, who could easily leapfrog Thabeet on the depth chart given his superior athletic ability.
Maybe the addition of Adams will provide Thabeet with some extra motivation. Or maybe he just wasn't meant to play the NBA game. This is a make-or-break year for Thabeet's career.
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