Future NBA Stars Stuck in Bad Situations
One of the most important aspects of the NBA developmental process is the team-player fit.
A lot of guys get drafted into situations that don't allow them to thrive or reach their true potential. We recently saw Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, get traded to Sacramento, where he'll have a good shot at reviving his NBA career.
According to ESPN, Williams told the Associated Press, "There were times where I was like, 'I'm definitely not going to play tonight,' " referring to his time in Minnesota. "And K-Love would have 25 [points] and 15 [rebounds]. Sometimes you have to come to grips with yourself and realize that."
A guy like Williams should benefit from a change a scenery, given the Timberwolves' roster situation and state of the team.
These are the guys who should have a better chance at emerging as stars with a fresh start somewhere else.
John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson's playing time has fluctuated since he entered the league, and with Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia, steady minutes could be tough to find.
He's actually been getting some good burn as of late, and of course, he's producing like a machine. Henson is averaging 36 minutes, 17.0 points, 10.4 boards, 2.6 assists and 2.4 blocks on 56-percent shooting over his last five games.
Sanders has been out but is nearing his return, while Pachulia just went down with an injury. Still, at full strength, this is a crowded frontcourt to avoid for a young player looking to establish rhythm.
Henson is rock solid on the block with his ability to score around the key, man the glass and protect the rim. D.J Foster of Bleacher Report and ProBasketballTalk seems to think Henson has star potential.
He's going to put up some big numbers in Milwaukee, but on a mediocre team with plenty of bigs and a ball-dominant backcourt, he'd be better off developing elsewhere.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
It just hasn't been working out for Iman Shumpert, who so far has underachieved in his expected breakout season.
The Knicks have a ton of guards and wings out there. After playing the point at Georgia Tech, he's now finding himself getting minutes at the 3 alongside guards like J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni at the 2. It's just not the best situation for a guy who's looking to take the next step, which he hasn't done since returning last season from a torn ACL.
Shumpert has been involved in trade rumors for the last two years and was recently involved in a verbal spat with Carmelo Anthony during a timeout.
This kid can play, and he's got so much room to grow. A terrific athlete, improving shooter and elite defender when focused, consistency is the only thing keeping Shump from breaking through that barrier.
And it just doesn't look like that's going to happen in those cursed orange jerseys.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes reentered the starting lineup once Andre Iguodala went down with an injury, but Iggy is signed for the next few years. And I'm not sure Barnes can maximize his potential as a sixth man down the road.
Barnes still has substantial upside, but he's the fifth or sixth option in the offensive pecking order. When the Warriors are at full strength, he just doesn't get as many touches or shots.
Barnes is a guy who needs to build his confidence. He's the type of scorer who isn't effective without it. He'll eventually need to string together a few seasons as a go-to option in a lineup, something his perimeter game, athleticism and size suggest he could one day be.
He's been efficient this season, shooting 48 percent from the floor and 41 percent from downtown. But it's tough to imagine him bumping up that 13-point-per-game average much in Golden State.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
I'm not giving up on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was drafted into what I thought was one of the worst positions possible.
Kidd-Gilchrist would have benefited greatly from being taken by a team with talent and veterans, much like Kawhi Leonard did when he was traded to the Spurs on draft night.
He just doesn't see many quality scoring opportunities in this current lineup, and at this point, he's not exactly proficient in terms of creating his own.
On a team with better passers, playmakers and more credible scorers, the transition process for M.K.G. will probably move a whole lot faster.
He turned 20 years old a couple of months ago, so no need to panic just yet. But he's more likely to succeed in a different setting.
Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder
On a championship contender with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb will never maximize his potential in Oklahoma City.
Lamb is a pure scorer with takeover ability, something he clearly won't have the freedom to do with the Thunder.
Given his style of play, he's actually shooting a respectable 46 percent from the floor this year, but he's only getting 20 minutes a game.
With a deep offensive arsenal consisting of step-backs, pull-ups and blow-by takes to the rack, Lamb has the chance to emerge as a go-to weapon in this league. It's just going to be tough for him to build any confidence or rhythm as a reserve who rarely gets crunch-time minutes.
Moe Harkless, Orlando Magic
Moe Harkless has been disappointing, but I'm not backing off my claim that he'll eventually evolve into one of the better picks of 2012.
Only, I don't see it happening in Orlando. And with Arron Afflalo excelling and Tobias Harris returning eventually, I'm just not sure exactly where Harkless fits.
A raw combo forward oozing with potential, Harkless hasn't been able to consistently tap into it just yet. He's still only 20 years old, so that's likely to play a part.
But without much established talent around him, he's had to rely on creating and generating his own offense, an area in which he's not fully adept at the moment.
Coach Jacque Vaughn has already started to slash his minutes, as he only got seven Monday night against Memphis. He'll never reach his ceiling if his minutes start fluctuating for a mediocre team.
Harkless needs to extend his shooting range, but his size, athleticism and feel for the game are all extraordinary. This guy needs a chance to develop, and it's going to be tough in a lineup without exceptional talent, veterans or regular minutes.