Being a professional NBAer can be a turbulent career. At one moment, all your dreams may come true, and you get selected in the first-round of the draft. The next moment, your slowly fizzling out of the G-league, contemplating a career overseas. But, in between those two ends of the spectrum, there are some tell tale signs of failure. Sometimes, a player has a serious injury that takes away their biggest strength, other times, these young ballers might not be able to transition to the pace of play in the NBA. A lot of the time though, it has to do with intangible, off-the-court issues, in which a player’s ego is too large for his actual talent. We’ve seen it time and time again, and unfortunately, not all young players are able to rebound from it.
Whichever way you want to look at it, as we previously mentioned, not everyone succeeds in the cutthroat NBA. Today, we will take a look at some young players who have shown signs of upcoming failure. What exactly defines failure? We will let you be the judge. But stay tuned for the top 15 young players who will hit rock bottom soon.
15. Lonzo Ball
Okay, so the second overall pick is probably not going away anytime soon, but I personally think all of his hype is undeserved. While he plays an unselfish style of basketball, sharing the rock, pushing the ball up the floor, and staying relatively quiet on the court, his scoring game serious lacks. Have you even seen his shot? In an NBA that’s driven by offensive production, in order to be the face of the Lakers, you have gotta put the ball through the hoop.
Ball might make several All-Star teams and have a great career, but if he doesn’t develop that shot, he won’t be a threat to anyone. The youngest player to ever record a triple-double needs to work on his mechanics, and stop listening to his promoter of a father!
14. Kris Dunn
After a dismal rookie season, Dunn has been steadily improving throughout 2017. The fifth round pick out of Providence never really made an impact for the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging about 17 minutes and 4 ppg in 2016. During the 2017 NBA draft, Dunn, along with Zach LaVine and the seventh-overall pick, was traded to the Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the 16th-overall pick.
After missing the first few games of the season with a finger injury, Dunn has surprised some, upping his average to 11.6 ppg. While he has been inconsistent on the court, turning the ball over a lot, Dunn is certain he can balance out his intensity and ball control. We will just have to wait and see. Maybe he will improve, but if he keeps playing like he did his first year, Dunn will hit rock bottom soon.
13. Damian Jones
The seven-footer out of Vanderbilt has a long way to go if he wants to make an impact with the Warriors. Jones was taken 30th-overall in the 2016 draft by Golden State, despite suffering a torn pectoral in the weeks leading up to the draft. In his rookie year, Jones never made much of an impact on the floor (mostly because they didn’t need help), and had several assignments with Santa Cruz, the Warrior’s farm team.
Now in 2017, Jones hoped to make an impact in the Bay Area, but all signs point to him spending his days down in Santa Cruz. Hopefully he develops into a solid center, and contributes to the Warriors in the future, but in his projected career path, he will most likely hit rock bottom and fizzle out of the league.
12. Johnny O’Bryant III
O’Bryant is the classic recipe for a guy who ends up overseas. After being selected in the second-round of the 2014 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, O’Bryant only started 19 games over the next three seasons, which led to him being waived in 2016. He went to the D-league down in Arizona, and ended up playing really well. In fact, he was able to secure a few 10-day contracts with the Nuggets and Suns in 2016. In the offseason, the former LSU Tiger signed a deal with the Hornets, and is looking to salvage his career.
Most likely, O’Bryant will end up hitting rock bottom in the next few years if he doesn’t step up his game. Good news for the power forward though is that he recently started his own anime and manga company that focuses on people of color. It’s an odd hobby for an NBA player, but at least if he ends up out of basketball, O’Bryant has something to fall back on.
11. Quinn Cook
You have gotta give Cook credit for sustaining the mentality it takes to make it in the NBA. At Duke, he won a National Championship, yet went undrafted in 2015. He ended up with the Canton Charge in the NBA Development League, where he went on to win D-League Rookie of the Year. The following year, Cook made first-team All-D-League, and continued his dominance in the lower ranks.
Eventually, New Orleans signed him to a 10-day contract in 2017, and kept him for the rest of the season. After being waived by the Pelicans in the offseason, Cook has bounced around the league now playing in Santa Cruz with the Warrior’s D-league. It’s unfortunate that Cook has really never had the chance to shine, and he will most likely hit rock bottom soon.
10. Meyers Leonard
The real question is how the hell has Meyers Leonard not hit rock bottom yet? The 25-year-old out of the University of Illinois is in his sixth-year in the league. He was selected with the 11th-overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, mainly due to his 7’1″ frame. Honestly, Leonard is an extremely below-average big man, only putting up 5.7 ppg and 3.9 rpg. Despite low numbers, Portland signed him to a four-year, $41 million contract in 2016, so Blazers fans are stuck with him for few more years.
Most likely, Portland will waive or trade Leonard shortly, and I don’t expect him to make much of an impact elsewhere. In 2017, fans are already booing Leonard while he’s on the court, and within the next few years, he will probably be out of the NBA.
9. Daniel Ochefu
Ochefu was highly-touted coming out of high school, being ranked as the 54th top recruit in the country. In college, Ochefu helped Villanova to a National Championship in 2016 as a senior, but still never caught the eye of NBA scouts. He ended up going undrafted, and signed with the Wizards in the preseason. Washington eventually released him, and the Celtics picked him up in the beginning of the 2017 season.
Now, Ochefu is floundering with the Maine Red Claws, and looks like he won’t make it back to the NBA. Therefore, his likely career stats in the NBA will be 19 games, 3.9 minutes per game, and 1.3 points per game. In terms of basketball, there is not much more of a rock bottom than that.
8. Bruno Caboclo
The Brazilian forward has only seen limited action in 25 games over his four-year NBA career. As a member of the Toronto Raptors, Caboclo has made a permanent home in the D- and G-leagues for Toronto. While he was an integral member of the “Raptors 905” 2017 D-league championship, it’s highly unlikely he will ever make a name for himself in the NBA.
So far in 2017, Caboclo has seen action in two games, and has yet to record a point. With similar players such as DeMar DeRozan, C.J. Miles, OG Anunoby, and Norman Powell in front of him, Caboclo will most likely be relegated again. It’s hard to imagine him making another roster in the years to come, and will probably hit rock bottom overseas.
7. Kyle Wiltjer
Originally a five-star recruit out of high school, Wiltjer failed to contribute in college. At the University of Kentucky, he entered with fellow big man Anthony Davis, and never started his freshmen year. Finally, in his junior season, he was so fed up that Coach Calipari wasn’t utilizing him to his fullest potential, that the power forward transferred to Gonzaga.
In 2016, Wiltjer entered the NBA with the Houston Rockets as an undrafted free agent, but only played in 14 games, scoring 13 points total. After being moved to LA in the big offseason trade involving Chris Paul, Wiltjer was waived by the Clippers. After bouncing around the Raptors farm system, he moved his talents over to Greece for the 2017 season. If that’s his professional career through two years, there is no doubt he’ll hit rock bottom.
6. Nik Stauskas
In just four seasons, Stauskas has gone from promising player to a draft bust. The Sacramento Kings took the University of Michigan guard with the eighth overall pick of the 2014 draft. He started off slow, only averaging 4.4 points in his rookie year, but showed promise on the court. In 2015, he was traded to Philadelphia.
Stauskas rarely sees the court despite averaging over 25 minutes per game in 2015 and 2016. With the additions of a healthy Ben Simmons and a veteran guard in J.J. Redick, Stauskas barely saw action with the 76ers and was eventually phased out of Philadelphia. Following his trade to the Nets, he’s gotten a little more opportunity with Brooklyn, but not by much. It only looks like a matter of time before he’s out of the NBA altogether.
5. Marshall Plumlee
The seven-foot center is the Cooper Manning of the Plumlee family. His brothers, Mason and Miles, are pretty good players, but it seems like Marshall has just ridden the coattails of the Plumlee name to the NBA. In 2016, the former Duke Blue Devil went undrafted to the New York Knicks. After a few assignments with the Westchester Knicks, he got the call from Phil Jackson and company to play in MSG. He ended up playing in 21 games his rookie season, averaging less than two points per game.
In last year’s offseason, New York waived Plumlee, who went on to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Now with their G-league affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, Plumlee will most likely be called up at some point this season. Will he make an impact? Probably not. We can’t imagine he will ever be a regular in the NBA.
4. Wayne Selden Jr.
Once a McDonald’s All-American and ranked as a top-15 recruit out of high school by both ESPN and Rivals.com, Selden took his talents to the University of Kansas. After playing three years of college ball, he declared for the draft, but ended up being signed as an undrafted free agent to Memphis Grizzlies.
Eventually, Selden signed with the Iowa Energy, Memphis’s farm team, but got called up on a 10-contract to the New Orleans Pelicans late in the season. After the expiration of his contract, Selden made his way back to the team that signed him orginially, and is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. He has shown a lot of promise in the past two years, but overall, his future outlook in the NBA does not look encouraging.
3. Jahlil Okafor
“Free Jah!” The Philadelphia 76ers were pretty much holding the 2015 third overall pick hostage. They didn’t give him any playing time, and weren’t utilizing him in the offense. After months of frustration, the Sixers finally set Okafor free, trading him to the Brooklyn Nets, just about the worst possible landing spot for him.
Given that he didn’t go to a desirable destination, he will probably flounder and fizzle out of the league. Ultimately, it looks like Okafor will go down as a bust. He hasn’t seen much action yet with the Nets and if he can’t stand out on a team devoid of talent like Brooklyn, it won’t be long before Okafor is out of the NBA altogether.
2. Michael Carter-Williams
The cartoon-like Carter-Williams has been bouncing from team to team since his inception into the NBA in 2013. The Philadelphia 76ers drafted the former Syracuse point guard with the eleventh-overall pick. Originally, Carter-Williams looked like a solid get, posting double-digit points per game in each of his first three seasons. But, then things went downhill.
In 2016, Carter-Williams had an injury-riddled season, and only managed to put up 6.6 ppg in 45 games. Now in 2017 as a backup for Kemba Walker in Charlotte, he has only played in 20 games, and looks like he is on the fast track to Europe. If Carter-Williams doesn’t show consistently the rest of the year, he will be out as a Hornet, and most likely out as an NBA player.
1. Markelle Fultz
So we’ve barely seen any action from the top pick in the 2017 draft, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put him number one on our list. Let’s take a look at Fultz’s situation a little deeper. He is a great all-around player that can drive to the hole, hit the mid-range jumper, or splash a three. Unfortunately, he had a nasty shoulder (scapula) injury that has affected his shooting motion. I’m no orthopaedic surgeon, but have had my fair share of shoulder issues, and with shooting, he will probably have to RELEARN his entire motion. While his athleticism is still intact, and there is no doubt he is great player, his longevity in this league will be highly dependent on his shot. If he can’t be dominant anymore due to his shooting motion, you better bet your bottom dollar that Fultz will hit rock bottom soon.
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