It’s pretty normal to expect some growing pains and struggles during the young prospects couple of seasons in the NBA, as even if they’re used to being the most dominant players in their respective high school and college teams, making the transition to the majors is way more complicated than it may seem.
It takes way more than mere talent to make it in the NBA, considering you have to play with and against the most talented athletes in the world, having to work around the clock to improve your skills, have a really tough mindset and even having to transform your body to be able to play against bigger and stronger opposition.
However, even if you could expect some players to blossom slower than others, there have been several standout prospects that have been major busts during their first couple of NBA seasons, and today we’re going to name some of them, expecting they actually turn their careers around before being kicked out of the league and having to settle with D-league stints or playing overseas.
10. Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson looked like a monster out of the gate, completely dominating everybody in Summer League and looked like a lock to win Rookie of the Year during his first season with the Detroit Pistons.
Nevertheless, the 8th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft has actually struggled a lot to find consistent playing time after being horrid on defense and a pathetic shooter, averaging merely 6.2 points on 36.7% from the field and just over 30% from deep after two full NBA seasons.
9. Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh was compared with Chris Bosh during his first scouting reports, although they also stated that he was still quite rough on offense and it may take him a while longer to flourish as a true NBA scorer.
Still, his defensive upside and his rebounding skills as well as a body that was still growing made the Charlotte Hornets waste their 9th overall pick in 2014 on a guy that’s averaged 3.9 points and 4.4 boards on 44% from the field and that’s not even on the team’s roster right now, being dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for pretty much nothing.
8. Mario Hezonja
During his time at Barcelona, Mario Hezonja looked poised to stardom and keen to become one of the league’s elite scorers out of the gate, being drafted 5th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2015 as a prolific scoring shooting guard.
Now, some years later, the Croatian hasn’t been able to establish himself as a consistent player, struggling to even make the team’s rotation due to his attitude and averaging just over 5 points in under 40% from the field.
7. Adreian Payne
Adreian Payne looked like a monster on the early going, having the potential to grow into a very dominant two way player with his ability to swat shots and score on the low post, but he’s never been able to get some playing time to prove his worth.
Spending most minutes in garbage time, the 4-year pro enters this season with averages of just over 4 points and 2 boards in roughly 13 minutes per game, having a really tough time to find space in Minnesota’s crowded big man rotation.
6. Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams pretty much shocked everybody during his Rookie of the Year campaign, showing a lot of upside on both ends of the court and being a nightly triple double threat as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, after struggling to stay healthy and never improving his broken shot, he barely even makes the Chicago Bulls rotation and isn’t looking like a guy that has much to offer to any single team, with his trade stock getting lower and lower by the day.
5. Nik Stauskas
Nik Stauskas seemed like the answer at the shooting guard spot for the Sacramento Kings after being a light-out shooter during his NCAA stint at Michigan, but the Canadian youngster has been pretty much a huge flop so far.
Being dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers, he’s been nothing more than a streaky shooter and a huge defensive liability, but it’s still pretty early to count him out, and he still has the potential to become a consistent scorer with 6th Man of the Year chances.
4. Doug McDermott
We all remember how much of an offensive beast Doug McDermott was at Creighton, winning a lot of accolades due to his prolific scorer and his NBA ready offense, something that still hasn’t been proved at the majors after three full seasons in the NBA.
Still, we believe the Chicago Bulls gave up on him way too early, especially considering how much they gave to land him 11th back then in 2014, and the Oklahoma City Thunder may have the future Kyle Korver on their squad after landing him alongside Taj Gibson.
3. Dante Exum
Dante Exum was one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 Draft, being chosen 5th overall by the Utah Jazz out of Australia despite being a tweener teenager with a lot of work to do to become an NBA point guard.
After a season ending injury and struggles to settle in the team’s starting unit, Exum has really struggled in both ends of the floor, averaging just 5.4 points and 2.1 dimes per game in 38.5% from the floor and 30% from deep, and now that he’ll have to share touches with Ricky Rubio, things aren’t looking quite good for him at this point.
2. James Young
James Young seemed like one of the dominant scorers for the future in the NBA after a standout career at the University of Kentucky, where he averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 boards and showed a lot of different ways to send the ball to the bottom of the net.
Still, after being trusted with the 17th overall pick by the Boston Celtics, Young has been horrid on both ends of the floor for Brad Stevens squad, and he’s had to spend most of his NBA career in the team’s D-league affiliate after failing to prove his worth. Last season he averaged only 2.3 points per game and it will be a very difficult to get more minutes in the future.
1. Tyus Jones
Tyus Jones was yet another standout prospect that proved that he could shoot lights out on a NCAA level, and he’s actually been quite good when given the chance to run the offense and score with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Still, being forced to share playing time with both Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn has made it quite rough for him, but he has a lot of upsidest and given the opportunity, he’ll definitely improve his lousy averages of 3.8 points and 2.7 assists on 38.9% from the floor and 33.3% from beyond the arc.