10 Hyper-Talented Athletes Who Haven't Lived Up to the Hype (Yet)

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2017

10 Hyper-Talented Athletes Who Haven't Lived Up to the Hype (Yet)

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Talent alone doesn't make somebody a superstar. Athletes can possess all the goods in the world and still fall short of shattering expectations.

    Using current athletes only, we broke down 10 hyper-talented sports figures who haven't yet lived up to the hype. This piece dives into the MLB, NFL, soccer, tennis and the NBA. Those sporting bodies have provided enough content to produce a quality list.

    Remember, these are guys who possess all of the talent in the world. Yet, for whatever reason—stuff we'll explore—they haven't become household names. Check out who made the final cut by starting the slideshow.

Jared Goff

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    Calling Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff a bust is a bit premature. The rookie fell into an awkward situation, starting seven games on a team full of offensive holes and a lame-duck head coach.

    With Jeff Fisher now gone and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay leading the way, perhaps Goff's future is brighter than one could ever hope for.

    This past season, the forecast was gloomy. When Goff took the field, it was a complete disaster. His footwork was scrambled and any volume of pressure dialed up by an opposing defense sunk in quickly. His accuracy was wobbly at best, completing 54.6 percent of his passes.

    Unlike Carson Wentz, there weren't even moments where one could say, "Goff looks like the real deal." Again, it's too early to scream bust, but Goff's debut season was beyond underwhelming for someone with so much raw ability.

Nick Kyrgios

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    The next generation of hyper-talented athletes in professional tennis runs directly through Nick Kyrgios.

    It's a shame he hasn't been able to take that immense, overpowering skill set and consistently put it to good use. Kyrgios hit rock bottom—in a tennis capacity—on October 16. After reviewing his performance at the Shanghai Masters, the ATP decided to suspend the 21-year-old Aussie eight weeks and handed him a $25,000 fine.

    He was back and ready to prove that his brooding serve, trick shots and eclectic style of play are enough to produce a Grand Slam title. Sadly, after another dreadful exit during the Australian Open, per Matt Wilansky of ESPN, the hunt continues.

Michael Pineda

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    At 6'7", New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was blessed with extraordinary stuff and a violent delivery. The problem is Pineda hasn't turned those gifts into anything significant since joining the Bronx Bombers in 2014.

    Watching Pineda work can be incredibly frustrating. He flashes signs of proficiency or flat-out struggles mightily. In the three year's he spent in New York, Pineda has won 23 games and lost 27, adding a 4.10 ERA into that equation.

    Matt Provenzano of SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley explained how Pineda's struggles aren't anything new for the Yanks, pointing to pitcher's of the past as evidence that talent doesn't always equate to winning. "The little things—moving your slider a half-inch upward, for example—is what separates Michael Pineda from baseball’s truly elite."

    Hopefully the staff in New York can surround him with additional talent and help Pineda focus. He's gifted beyond belief.

Dante Exum

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    It's easy to forget now that Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum was selected No. 5 overall in the 2014 NBA draft.

    Exum built his pre-draft legacy playing ball overseas in Australia—where he was born and raised. Scouts took notice in 2013 when Exum debuted at the annual Nike Hoops Summit. He played on the same squad as Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, per Real GM

    You'd think being drafted No. 5 would warrant immediate playmaking ability. That hasn't been the case with Exum. At the ripe age of 21, he has started 57 games in three seasons—Exum missed the 2015-16 campaign due to injury—and has yet to expand on his raw talents.

    Exum isn't a bust. He's only 21 and has two healthy seasons under his belt. But again, being selected No. 5 overall warrants production. So far, he hasn't lived up to the hype.

Greg Robinson

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    When Greg Robinson emerged from Coach Gus Malzahn's Auburn Tigers, he was revered as a guy who could potentially become the next best thing at left tackle.

    Nimble feet combined with an overwhelming sense of power put NFL franchises on notice. Robinson was the real deal. Writing for NFL.com at the time, Nolan Nawrocki explained what the allure was with this former Auburn tackle: "He is undeniably gifted and capable of walking into a starting-left-tackle job in the pros and paving the way in the run game." 

    He was raw, but he had all the talent and hype in the world. Three seasons into his career, Robinson looks nothing like the player NFL scouts were left salivating over.

    Robinson spent this past year registering 0.69 penalties per game, per NFL Penalty Tracker. On tape, he failed to push back defenders, open holes in the run game or protect his quarterback with any sense of consistency.

    Clearly, the talent is there. We all saw what he had to offer at Auburn. The issue has been that he can't seem to put any of it together for a consistent stretch of time.

Martin Odegaard

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    Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Real Madrid's constant hunt for talent led them to Martin Odegaard. In 2015, the Spanish super club signed him away from Stromsgodset in exchange for a transfer fee.

    That currency swap paved the way for Odegaard to develop into a potential centerpiece for the club. Today, he's been loaned to the Dutch club, Heerenveen, as reported by BBC.

    The move places Odegaard in an intriguing place. He could further his development and report back to Real's first team. Or, this could be a precursor to his eventual descent from the club.

    At 18 years old, he hasn't lived up to the talent he possesses. And Madrid is a hard place to get acclimated. Perhaps down the road he'll find a place where he's given the chance to thrive.

Matt Harvey

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Of all the athletes featured on this list, Matt Harvey represents one name who has shown his talent is worthy of consequential layers of hype.

    Harvey's signature moment came in 2013. His sophomore season with the club resulted in a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 26 starts. His command was riveting; his stuff electric. Few pitchers could stack up to his strength.

    Three seasons later, we've begun to see a great pitcher falter. Once the torchbearer for the Mets, Harvey's hype has faded thanks to a '16 campaign accompanied by a 4.86 ERA and 76 strikeouts.

    Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com explained how no one knows what comes next. The talent is clearly there—we've seen it. But injuries combined with an awful season have derailed the prospects of Harvey ever reaching that plateau of greatness.

    As 2017 plays out, we'll know if the hyper-talented Harvey can find his way back to greatness.

James Young

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    It's easy to forget how good James Young was coming out of Coach John Calipari's Kentucky program. He resembled an edgy wing player with a raw, yet diverse set of skills. 

    Kevin O'Connor of SB Nation's Celtics Blog scouted Young and put forth countless examples of why and how he could develop into a star, especially when it came to shooting the ball: "Young has a very smooth jump shot, and he is capable of catching fire from outside."

    Three seasons deep into his NBA career, Young hasn't shown much promise. He's averaged 2.1 points in the 71 games he's suited up for. Still, at the age of 21, giving up on him isn't worth it.

    Young may never develop into the player Celtics' fans had hoped for. He may never even resemble a fragment of the star we saw at Kentucky, and that's fine. All the Celtics can hope for is he matures into a reliable asset for them a handful of seasons down the road.

Aaron Judge

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    Shame on us for thinking New York Yankees prospect Aaron Judge was going to walk into the big leagues and start swinging for the fences.

    In 2016, Judge received limited work, with 95 plate appearances, and he performed as you'd expect most rookies would. He hit four homers, knocked in 10 RBI and registered a porous .179 average—at least those four long balls proved Judge's talent was alive and well.

    This season you'd have to believe the Yankees are going to rely heavily on the unpolished Judge to drive in runs with Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira all out of pinstripes. Judge embodies power. He embodies the future of this franchise at right field.

Jahlil Okafor

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    Philadelphia 76ers fans have begun to trust the process. The emergence of Joel Embiid as a perennial superstar has alleviated pressure and made this roster fun once again.

    Jahlil Okafor has been lost in the shuffle of the team's constant top draft picks—not to mention Nerlens Noel. Okafor was a prodigy at Duke. He used his 6'11" frame and soft touch to consume buckets near the rim and in the mid-range area of the floor.

    Okafor was drafted No. 3 overall to the 76ers in 2015 with the hope he would bring that scoring propensity over to the NBA level. It hasn't been all roses and glasses of sherry.

    His rookie season was productive at first glance. Okafor averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds per game. This season, as he's faced relegation to the bench behind the play of Embiid, his totals have dipped to 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds on average.

    ESPN's Zach Lowe has focused on the fact Okafor is playing like a man a quarter of his size: "Okafor is still a hole in the post. He's rebounding like a wing player, again. He's constantly late on rotations, and worse yet, when he realizes he's late, he doesn't exactly respond with urgency." 

    As Lowe points out, there's still plenty of time for him to turn things around. The ability is in place. Okafor's main concern career-wise has been his tumultuous play. Play that doesn't warrant any sort of hype.

    All stats, box scores and information via Sports-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.


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