The NBA lockout is an incredible hindrance for every one of the league's players, especially the incoming rookies.
While the lockout prevents every player from progressing in their career, it delays newcomers from beginning theirs. The first season is a crucial year for every player, as it sets the tone for their future.
Rookie seasons are a time for players to develop and adapt to their new surroundings and level of competition. The longer this lockout persists, the less time rookies have to prove themselves, unless they are remaining overseas.
Every player, from the bottom of the draft board all the way to the top, needs a season, whether in the states or overseas, as each has at least one aspect of their game that needs improving.
Let's take a look at one facet of each first-round draft pick's game that needs to be worked on.
Jimmy Butler improved his shooting abilities dramatically during his last two seasons at Marquette, however he still does need to work on creating for himself.
His ball-handling skills are solid in terms of protection, but that is largely due to the fact that he doesn't do anything special with it.
If Butler wants to succeed at the NBA level, he is going to have learn how to create his own shots. Moving without the ball is admirable, but it will only get you so far.
Cory Joseph isn't the most athletic of players, but he finds ways to score and protects the ball fairly well.
That being said, he needs to improve his ball distribution if he wants to make it as a point guard in the NBA.
Joseph played over 32 minutes per game last season for Texas yet he only averaged a mere three assists per night. With his ability to drive into the paint and draw the defenses in, he needs to ensure he is adept at hitting the open man.
Joseph won't be able to blow by or overpower as many players at this level as he did in college, which means developing a keen court vision is a necessity for him to succeed.
Despite his impressive displays of quickness on offense, Norris Cole's lateral movements on defense are average at best, which is something he needs to improve.
Cole swiped 2.2 steals per game with Cleveland State last season, but with him, it was often a pickpocket or nothing. For someone with his quickness, he has to work on sticking with his man; he got beat off the dribble far too often.
As he gains experience in the NBA, he will see that the point guards in this league are much more athletic than at the collegiate level, and given he is already undersized to begin with, his ability to keep his man in front is of the utmost importance.
JaJuan Johnson is a great low-post player, who excels whether his back is to the basket or he is facing his defender.
At 6'10", Johnson's rebounding is of slight concern though. He grabbed 8.6 boards per game in his senior season with Purdue, but his production off the glass was inconsistent at best.
Additionally, as he progresses through an NBA season he will find it even tougher to go up against the stronger, more athletic power forwards that the league boasts.
His offensive skills are solid, as are his shot-blocking skills, but as of right now, he needs to get more physical and consistent when crashing the glass.
Jordan Hamilton must improve his shot selection if he wants to excel at the NBA level.
He had the ball in his hands much of the time while at Texas and often decided to take contested shots as opposed to dishing it off. At the NBA level, he is going to get such errant shots rejected and develop a less-than-flattering reputation as a ball hog.
Hamilton can shoot, but he cannot force the action; he has to let the game come to him and become better at distinguishing when to shoot and when to pass it up.
Basketball is a team sport, and Hamilton won't succeed putting up shots he doesn't have.
Marshon Brooks can be a lethal shooter, but he has to develop a quicker release.
Brooks was the focal point of Providence's offense, which allowed him to put up nearly 18 shots per game, but his less-than-quick release resulted in a lot of turnovers.
Playing alongside Deron Williams means that Brooks is going to be moving without the ball a lot more, which he does excel at. However, it also means he is going to have to take quick shots as Williams loves to thread the needle.
Currently, Brooks' release hinders his scoring potential. He is not going to have as much time to get himself set in the NBA, so if he wants to succeed and become an integral part of the Nets offense, he has to adapt his release to better fit the pace of the game.
Reggie Jackson must improve his ability to run the offense because he is not a true point guard as of right now.
Jackson put up a moderate 4.5 assists per game and proved to protect the ball well when it was in his hands, but he looks for his shot first. Additionally, when he does pass, it is not with the intent of being a playmaker, but rather handing the ball off so that his teammate may create for himself.
The athleticism and capability are there, but the mindset just isn't. If he wants to make an impact in this league, he is going to have to adapt his thought process to better fit the needs of his position.
If Nikola Mirotic is going to succeed at the NBA level one day he is going to have to learn to create for himself.
Mirotic has a tendency to settle for quick jumpers or pass the ball off when he is on the inside. Players of his size often have to create for themselves since they spend a lot of time in the paint.
Though Mirotic can hit the outside shot, he cannot settle for it every time he touches the ball on the perimeter. He needs to learn how to drive the ball to the basket and make his own offense when it is not there at first glance.
Mirotic has potential to be quite an offensive threat, but the difference between him becoming lethal as opposed to a mediocre threat is his willingness to take matters into his own hands.
Despite averaging 17.3 points in his last year at Morehead State, Kenneth Faried's low-post game needs some major work.
Faried was often at an advantage physically in college, but this will not be the case in the NBA. He is undersized for his position and is not going to get many easy buckets in the low post.
Faried needs to translate the aggressive nature in which he pursues rebounds onto the offensive end.
Defensive-minded players are valued, but athletes with a well-balanced game have the ability to be even more effective.
Nolan Smith is more of an undersized combination guard as he has the court vision of a point guard, but struggles with protecting the ball.
Smith averaged 3.2 turnovers per game in his senior season at Duke, and while that can be contributed to him being the focal point of the offense, such a statistic is not acceptable of a true starting point guard.
Point guards have the ball in their hands a majority of the time, but as a result they should be more adept at protecting the ball rather than opening themselves up to more turnovers.
Smith is skilled at seeing the open man and the potential for an easy score, but he has problems executing. His passes can go astray and he is susceptible to giving up steals.
Ball protection is one of the most important jobs for a point guard, but it's one that Smith has not quite mastered.
The 7'0" Donatas Motiejunas is considered by many to have quite the career ahead of him, but before he can translate into anything substantial, he must improve his defense.
He is not prone to especially quick lateral movements, and the level of aggression in which he crashes the boards and blocks shots could be much better. In over 27 minutes of action per game last year, he only grabbed 5.6 rebounds and blocked 0.8 shots, less-than-stellar numbers for someone his size.
Motiejunas will likely have to add some muscle if he wants to improve upon the defensive aspect of his game, but such an addition will prove to be a necessity if he wants to be effective in the low post.
Tobias Harris can hit the three or drive the ball to the basket, but the absence of a consistent mid-range game is slightly disconcerting.
When Harris creates for himself he tends to put his head down and head toward the basket, but he would do himself a great service by adding a pull-up mid-range jumper to his repertoire. His ability to knock down the three clearly indicates that he has the ability to make such an adjustment, but whether or not he does is a different story.
Harris should use this time off during the lockout to further complete his game. He can already hit from both the outside and inside, and a mid-range game would make him much more dangerous and likely to succeed in this league.
In order to succeed at the NBA level, Chris Singleton needs to work on developing his offensive awareness, specifically when he has the ball in his hands.
Singleton is a lockdown defender, but he is not that big of a threat on the offensive end. When the ball is in his hands, he often cannot decide whether to try and score or kick it back out to the perimeter, which makes him turnover-prone.
Singleton doesn't seem to be comfortable going to work with the ball in his hands, a feeling that is only going to increase at this level. If he wants to become a legitimate low-post threat and multifaceted player, he needs to work on his offensive intellect.
This starts with developing confidence when the ball is in his hands.
If Iman Shumpert wants to become a dangerous offensive player, he must develop his outside game into much more than it is.
When it comes to driving the ball to the basket, Shumpert has a mountain of confidence, but he falls into a slump very easily from the outside, especially from beyond the arc. He shot a mere 27.8 percent from downtown in his junior season at Georgia Tech and became visibly conscious of his struggles, which resulted in him passing up numerous open looks.
Many have Shumpert pegged as an incapable floor general, but if he wants to prove he is a natural shooting guard and render such a stigma pointless, he needs to spend his time during the lockout learning how to knock down the three consistently.
Former USC Trojans star Nikola Vucevic would be wise to spend his downtime working on conditioning.
Vucevic has an NBA body, which puts him ahead of a lot of other big men from this draft class, but his lack of mobility is a major concern. He is not very quick in getting up and down the court, and becomes a liability when attempting to defend in transition.
Additionally, while he is a solid defender, his lack of speed makes it difficult for him when attempting to help out after a perimeter defender has gotten beat.
Vucevi's stature may be ready for the NBA, but his conditioning isn't.
Kawhi Leonard is very athletic, but his perimeter defense does not reflect such a quality.
Leonard is going to find himself defending on the perimeter much more frequently in the NBA. The athleticism and quickness to succeed is there, but he hasn't found a way to translate that into sharp lateral movements.
Leonard often gets tripped up and beat when defending players with solid ball-handling skills. This makes him a major liability, especially considering he will be forced to defend some of the most athletic players in the game at his position.
Since Leonard is too small to set up camp as a true power forward in the low post, he will have to improve his mobility on the defensive end.
Out of the entire 2011 draft class, Marcus Morris possesses one of the more complete games.
He is a solid defender and low-post scorer, and he is as aggressive on the boards as they come. During his last year at Kansas, Morris managed to add a three-point shot to his arsenal as well, a weapon that he will continue to develop.
Given his level of versatility though, Morris could stand to improve his ball-handling skills a bit. Doing so will make him even more of a threat on the offensive end as it will allow him to create from anywhere on the floor.
Morris is a solid catch-and-shoot player, and his ability to move without the ball is impressive. However, he will need to create for himself more in the NBA, and while he is fully capable of doing so, he should continue to work on his ball-handling to ensure his transition to this level goes as smoothly as possible.
Markieff Morris is incredibly athletic, which is why it is somewhat surprising he is not more dominant in the low post on the offensive end.
When Morris catches the ball in the paint, he tends to look to pass it back out to the perimeter before even considering attempting to score.
In order for Morris to excel at the NBA level, he needs to assert himself more on the offensive end. This means that he needs to spend his time developing a certain level of comfort establishing an offensive set with his back to the basket.
His defense and rebounding give him the ability to make an immediate impact on the court, but they will only carry him so far.
As one of the most aggressive scorers in the draft, Alec Burks' ability to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line should translate in the NBA rather seamlessly.
That being said, he needs to extend his range so that he can become an even bigger offensive threat. He shot a meager 29.2 percent from beyond the arc in his last season with Colorado.
Burks' outside capabilities become even more important given that he still needs to pack on some muscle so he can power through the larger NBA bodies on his way to the basket. Until he becomes better acclimated to the increased physical nature that is waiting for him at this level, his shooting abilities are incredibly crucial.
Burks would be doing himself a great disservice if he didn't spend his time in the gym perfecting his outside shooting form and accuracy, so that he is ready to make an immediate impact once the lockout ceases.
On the offensive end, Klay Thompson is about as intelligent and efficient player as there is, but he lacks such qualities on the defensive end.
Thompson is liable to get beat off the dribble and he also takes too many chances going for steals.
As a prolific offensive player, the tactics of his opponent should be something he is able to discern, yet he leaves his feet far too often on pump fakes and relies on his hands far too often to play defense for him.
NBA action may be suspended, but if Thompson wants to prove he can be a more complete player than the likes of Monta Ellis, he needs to learn how to play defense the correct way.
Jimmer Fredette is a lights-out scorer, but everyone has concerns about his defensive capabilities.
While at BYU, Fredette rarely played defense, yet it must be noted the system was designed this way to keep him out of foul trouble. Currently, his defensive potential is unknown, but Fredette needs to ensure he is ready once this lockout ends.
In college, Fredette was notorious for getting beat off the dribble and being unable to defend agile guards on the perimeter. Yes, the system was designed to keep Fredette from doing the heavy defensive lifting, but he needs to ensure he does not become complacent in those ways.
At 6'2", Fredette is listed as a point guard, but in reality he is a severely undersized shooting guard, and if he doesn't prepare for a life of defense in the NBA, he will only be adding further insult to injury.
Kemba Walker is quite the scorer and if he were a few inches taller, he would absolutely dominate at the shooting guard position. That being said, he is 6'1" and playing the shooting guard position full-time is unrealistic.
As a result, Walker needs to be able to excel at the point guard position. No, he doesn't have to stray away from his score-first mentality, but he needs to improve his court vision.
At UConn, Walker had the ball in his hands the bulk of the time, yet he only averaged 4.6 assists in nearly 38 minutes per game. He needs to look to pass more often, or at the very least prove he can direct the offense efficiently. This will make for better defensive matchups for him.
Walker looks the part of a point guard, and it's time he played like it too.
If Brandon Knight wants to succeed in the NBA, he needs to cut down on the amount of shots he takes per game.
He had the green light while at Kentucky, but he kept jacking up ill-advised shots, especially from beyond the arc, even if they weren't falling. Confidence is a virtue, but there is a point where it becomes excessive.
Knight only averaged 4.2 assists in nearly 36 minutes per game last season, but he does have the court vision necessary to excel as a true point guard, he just needs to stop taking too many shots.
It's not even exactly his shot selection; it's just the fact that instead of taking a semi-contested jumper or fadeaway, he would be better off running pick-and-rolls.
Knight has the tools to become a truly effective point guard; he just needs to decrease the number of shots he jacks up in order to learn how to use them.
Bismack Biyombo is a defensive guru and is incredibly athletic for someone his size, but he lacks assertiveness on the offensive end.
For a guy standing at 6'9" and with a wingspan of 7'7", Biyombo needs to develop a post-up game. He rarely looks for his shot, and even when he does, you can tell he is just not confident in his abilities to knock it down.
While confidence is a large part of it, Biyombo also needs to develop a better touch around the basket to improve this aspect of his game. He needs to be able to hit the baby jumper and find other ways to score when the dunk isn't there.
Biyombo averaged 6.4 points in 17 minutes for the ACB league last year, and while the minutes don't exactly warrant much higher numbers, there is untapped production to be had there.
At only 18, Biyombo is certainly a promising talent, but if he doesn't exhibit the same aggression on the offensive end as he does on the defensive side, his NBA career is going to be marked by a series of disappointments.
Jan Vesely showed off his athleticism in the EURO league last year, but even with such an impressive display it was clear that the 6'11" forward needed to work on his rebounding.
In nearly 27 minutes of burn per game, he averaged only 3.4 rebounds, an embarrassing number for someone his size. Some of his struggles can be attributed to him needing to bulk up a bit, but most of it comes down to lack of aggression.
Vesely needs to be much more persistent when crashing the boards. Given his height and impressive wingspan there is no reason why he shouldn't hit the 10-rebounds-per-game mark rather easily.
A big man that cannot rebound is not a valued commodity, no matter how many shots he blocks or points he scores. If Vesely wants to prove he is capable of running with the best of the league's bigs one day, he needs to make crashing the boards a habit he refuses to kick.
There are many aspects of Jonas Valanciunas' game that could stand to undergo some tweaking, but most of them come down to his deficient positioning.
Valanciunas is not especially strong, but he is 6'11", meaning that his presence is enough to warrant impressive production. However, when going up for rebounds, he fails to box out the opposition, resulting in him getting pushed out of the way much of the time.
Additionally, on offense, Valanciunas doesn't set up anywhere near where he should. He starts his offensive sets too far away from the basket, forcing himself to do extra work.
Adding some extra muscle wouldn't be a bad idea on Valanciunas' part, but strength isn't everything—positioning is. And it's easily what he needs to work on the most.
Surprisingly, the aspect of the fourth overall pick's game that needs to undergo the most improvement is his free-throw shooting.
Tristan Thompson was an abysmal free-throw shooter in his only year at Texas, knocking down 48.7 percent of his opportunities from the charity stripe. Some may consider free-throw shooting a small cog in the machine, but when a player is headed to the line seven-plus times per game that is a lot of points left on the board.
Thompson plays a physical game, and as a result he draws fouls often. Since he heads to the line so frequently, it is crucial to his development and future success that he learn to make free throws the easy points that they are supposed to be.
Additionally, with the game on the line, you don't want to let your team down because you cannot hit an uncontested shot. How many times have we seen losses boil down to missed free throws?
Unless Thompson wants establish himself as a choke artist, he would do well to do some serious work on his foul shooting.
For someone who stands at 6'11", Enes Kanter sure is a terrible shot-blocker, something he really needs to change before he can make a major impact at the NBA level.
Lack of mobility is common in players Kanter's size, but with the touch he exhibits around the basket on offense, it is clear he has the athleticism passable enough to become a feared shot-blocker.
Kanter's aggression is also an issue, as he doesn't tend to contest many shots in the low post that aren't taken by his man. He needs to learn to play the ball sometimes so that he can create opportunities for himself to make an actual contribution on the defensive end.
If Kanter wants to make it big in the NBA, becoming a prolific shot-blocker is not a personal preference—it's a necessity.
Arguably the most explosive player in this year's draft, Derrick Williams' ball protection is the aspect of his game that needs the most improvement.
Williams has the ball in his hands quite frequently for a power forward, and while his ball-handling skills are decent, he needs to recognize he needs to use different tactics when moving from the perimeter to the inside.
When setting up in the paint, Williams cares for the ball as if he is on the outside, and the nearest defender is a few inches away. However, defenders get up close and personal in the low post, and there is also more general traffic down there as well, meaning you can't keep it out in front of you as much.
Careless would be an exaggeration to classify his inside ball protection, but he does tend overlook the risks of dribbling too much in the paint.
Williams is destined for greatness, and improving his low-post ball protection with some inside dribbling drills will only help him get there quicker.
At first glance, Kyrie Irving was an incredibly prolific three-point shooter for Duke last season. However, if we dive deeper, we find out that his 46 percent hit rate from downtown came on a mere 39 attempts.
Obviously, Irving was accurate from beyond the arc, but his less-than-impressive attempts show that he lacks confidence and the willingness to put up the long-range shot consistently.
What's the best way for him to establish confidence? By taking trey after trey after trey.
Players are locked out, but that shouldn't stop Irving from practicing his long-range jumper as much as he possibly can. He has to perfect his form so that he can put up threes without any hesitation when it comes down to it.
If anything, Irving's misleading three-point percentage has only put more pressure on him. Yes, he only took 39 attempts, but it's the 46 percent success rate that people are going to pay attention to. Fans are going to expect him to be a deadly three-point shooter.
And it would be wise of him to work at it hard enough so he doesn't let them down.
You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.