NBA Rookies 2013: Top Draft Picks Who Will Struggle in First Year

Daine Pavloski@@dpavloskiAnalyst IIOctober 7, 2013

Trey Burke could be in for a long rookie season in Utah.
Trey Burke could be in for a long rookie season in Utah.Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

It seems as if it was just yesterday that the 2013 NBA draft was bringing all kinds of surprises. Now all of a sudden there's already a video game out with all of the rookies on their new teams.

As these rookies start their first NBA preseason, one thing is guaranteed to happen—some guys are going to struggle. 

Here are some top 10 picks that are going to struggle in their first year. 

Nerlens Noel is going to be an NBA Great...eventually.
Nerlens Noel is going to be an NBA Great...eventually.Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Noel has really cool hair and is a monster on the basketball court.


He was easily one of the most exciting players in all of college basketball and one of the best defenders. That is, until he got hurt in February. 

Noel didn't play an entire college basketball season at Kentucky, which could really hurt him in the NBA. He had a few big games at UK but certainly didn't fill the shoes of his predecessor Anthony Davis. He won a ton of SEC and NCAA awards, but leaving for the NBA after an injury could definitely hurt Noel in the long run. 

Noel was a beast in the NCAA and high school because of his height and athleticism. He's the new breed of lanky, athletic centers. But what is he about to do when he runs into guys like Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard? He'll get boxed out of the arena. 

Don't get me wrong, Noel is a great talent and will have a great NBA career, but his rookie year might not exactly be one to remember. He still has to get used to the speed of the NBA game and hasn't really tested his previously injured knee at the level he'll be expected to play in Philly.

It'll be interesting to see how Noel does against some of the NBA's best big men, but I think we'll see some growing pains for the incredible youngster during his first season. 

Cody Zeller had the unfortunate luck to be drafted by the Bobcats which could be rough on anyone
Cody Zeller had the unfortunate luck to be drafted by the Bobcats which could be rough on anyoneBrian Babineau/Getty Images

Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats

It can easily be argued that Cody Zeller is the best of the Zeller brothers. He was an absolute stud at Indiana and was easily one of the most impressive and talented big men in the country. One disadvantage Zeller has is where he was drafted to.  

Zeller was picked up by the rough Charlotte Bobcats franchise that, at least on paper, looks quasi-decent. According to, the tentative starting five are: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson. Looks a lot better than it did a year ago, but still not the greatest by any means. 

Unfortunately for Zeller he'll be asked to contribute right off the bat for a franchise that really doesn't know how to win and lacks experience, save for guys like Henderson and Jefferson. Zeller won't have much time to adjust to the speed and different style of the NBA, and he could have a tough time facing off against some of the league's elite players. 

Zeller, like Noel, will be good down the road. But spending his rookie season on a rough team in the same division as the Miami Heat could spell early trouble for the former Hoosier. 

The Jazz roster has grown pretty thin after losing players to trades and free agency
The Jazz roster has grown pretty thin after losing players to trades and free agencyMelissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

Trey Burke, Utah Jazz

Burke had an interesting draft night after he was traded to the Jazz from the Minnesota Timberwolves. He went from the Wolves, a team with about 23 points guards to a team where he would get the keys. Burke is a great shooter and play-maker and overall well-rounded player out of Michigan. But making the jump to the NBA is tough for any player. 

Burke was great for the Wolverines but averaged almost three turnovers per game, which might not be terrible in college, but having weak ball-handling in the NBA could be disastrous. It won't help that he's in the same division as Ricky Rubio, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and Ty Lawson

Burke, like Zeller and Noel, has a chance to be great in the NBA. And just like them, it's just going to take some time for him to develop his game at the next level. The level of competition is much higher in the NBA and he's playing in a division with some of the best point guards in the league. If he doesn't produce for his team and fast, he could have a rough rookie season.