Growing pains are natural and something you should expect out of several young players during their development years while they’re still adapting their bodies, minds and games to the demanding NBA lifestyle, as only a handful of ballers is actually able to make an impact right out of the gate.
It’s never fair to just go ahead and call young men busts following a disappointing rookie campaign, but after they struggle to get anything going during their sophomore year and even the next season, expectations and hype tend to take a huge downfall as they fail to progress.
Over the last 4 or 5 years, some highly hyped prospects have been huge letdowns, either because injuries prevent them from being able to stay on the court and develop, or because they don’t find a way to make the adjustment to succeed in the NBA.
Today, we’re going to let you know about 5 young players that have been a major disappointment for us over the last couple of seasons.
5. Jahlil Okafor
Jahlil Okafor was considered to be the 1st overall pick through most of his NCAA lone season, but he quickly fell off as there were a lot of concerns about how his old school back-to-the-basket low post game would translate to modern basketball, as well as his lack of defensive awareness and commitment.
Following a strong rookie year, Okafor was pretty much sent to the dog house to make room for Joel Embiid, up to the point where he was just racking DNPs and wasn’t even a part of the team’s rotation. Now, he’s trying to prove he’s worthy of a chance with the Nets, and even though he may never become a good defender, his offensive upside’s there, but he needs to prove himself right now.
4. Nerlens Noel
When Nerlens Noel first entered the league, it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers had found their rim protector for the future, with Nerlens being one of the best defensive minded big men in the league and an athletic freak that could just swat shot after shot and dominate both ends of the glass.
Sadly, constant injuries have stalled Noel’s development, and his offensive repertoire is pretty much nonexistent at this time. Nerlens is still quite young and given the opportunity to play, he could still rank among the league’s leader in blocks per game. Still, he needs to stay healthy in order to actually play, and it seems like the Mavs are done waiting for him to do so.
3. Dragan Bender
Dragan Bender entered the league as a very young prospect but had the kind of skill set that made people believe that he could become a Dirk Nowitzki kind of stretch big man, having a sweet shooting stroke and a nice offensive touch from everywhere on the floor.
Sadly, an injury-plagued rookie season left him on the sidelines for most of the year, and he’s failed to take a step forward during his sophomore year with the Suns leaning mostly on Marquese Chriss this season at the 4. Bender’s still just 20 years old, but being a 4th overall pick, he’s been a major bust so far.
2. Anthony Bennett
After being drafted 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013, it seems like Anthony Bennett’s lone career accomplishment was being part of the deal that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland, and he’s not even a part of an NBA roster anymore and is currently playing in the G-league after a failed stint overseas.
Bennett is undersized to play the four but lacks the range to play the three, is heavy and slow and is not a good defender as well. Also, he lost pretty much of his confidence after a slow start of his rookie campaign, and he’s considered to be one of the NBA Draft’s biggest busts ever.
1. Markelle Fultz
Markelle Fultz entered the league as the 1st overall pick following an outstanding NCAA rookie season with Washington, showing glimpses of greatness with an offensive repertoire that looked that would instantly translate to the NBA and that he would be making a case for this season’s Rookie of the Year award.
Sadly, an odd condition has made Fultz body “forget” how to shoot, so he’s been on the shelf for most of the campaign while trying to work on his shooting form once again, as he couldn’t even connect from the charity stripe during the first passages of the season. It’s still pretty early in his career, and he definitely has the talents, but he extremely disappointed this season.