Throughout NBA history, rookie years have never indicated the true value of a player since not everyone is NBA ready as soon as they step on the court. Some players happen to be very raw and need a number of seasons to develop before they truly flourish, while others can make an impact from their debut game.
For instance, LeBron James was a dominant force from the minute he stepped into the court against the Sacramento Kings as a rookie, and built up on his successful campaign with much stronger seasons later on. You also have the likes of Tracy McGrady who may not have set the world on fire as rookies and didn't breakout as stars until a few seasons later when their skills had been polished to translate their game at the highest level.
But there are some who may have gotten off to a hot start only to fizzle out immediately after their rookie season, which turned out to be the peak of their careers. That is of course the worst possible scenario since players are expected to improve with every passing year, such isn't always the case as we will come to learn from today's list.
As impressive as it is for a player to shine in their first NBA season, it doesn't always guarantee that they will go on to have equally as impressive seasons later on. There have been many who struggled to retain the same form by their sophomore season and were out of the league within a few years. Here are 20 star NBA rookies who were flops in their 2nd season:
20 Marcus Thornton
Marcus Thornton made impact immediately into year one as he averaged 14.5 PPG, but the next year saw his average drop to 7.8. It was a sophomore slump in every sense as Thornton wasn't able to score as constantly or efficiently as he had in his rookie year. With New Orleans being disappointed in his efforts all season long, they decided to send him away to the Sacramento Kings for the remainder of the year. Thornton did manage to bounce back later on, and had some better years afterwards - showing the same range that he had in his rookie campaign.
19 Channing Frye
While Channing Frye has had a decent career, it isn't quite worthy of an 8th overall pick. He had an impressive rookie campaign with the New York Knicks, putting up 12.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG while shooting 47 % from the field. His numbers dropped across the board in his sophomore season as Frye struggled to build on his earlier performances, why is why the Knicks traded him in the summer. Frye struggled even more during the next two years as he didn't fit in with the Portland Trail Blazers, nor did he show the skillset that earned him a place on the All-NBA Rookie First Team in 2006.
18 MarShon Brooks
Considering that MarShon Brooks earned comparisons to Kobe Bryant in his rookie year, that should tell you plenty about his early hype. Selected with the 25th overall pick, Brooks was among the top rookies in 2011-12 with many believing that he could turn into an All-Star player. But those expectations never came to fruition as Brooks' sophomore year saw him fall quickly with his stats taking a major hit. For just one season, Brooks was among the highest rated prospects in the league but that didn't last too long as it appeared that his rookie showings may have been a fluke after all.
17 D.J. Augustin
Thanks to a very good rookie season, the Charlotte Bobcats (at the time) believed that they had their point guard of the future with D. J. Augustin. But he failed to follow it with another strong campaign with his PPG average dropping from 11.8 to 6.3 within a year, while his shooting percentages also dropped significantly. Augustin's sophomore was filled with disappointment and hurt his credibility, although he did bounce back in his credit. Many players featured on this list failed to remain in the league past a few years, but Augustin is still a member of the Orlando Magic as of today.
16 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Expectations were high for the second overall pick of the 2012 Draft to push the Charlotte Hornets into a winning team as the team had struggled for a number of years. During his college career, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had shown potential to become a star in the NBA. His rookie year was good enough for fans to retain hope in his development, knowing well that he was a project from the jump. But they were disappointed by his showings in his sophomore year as MKG went through a slump that affected his overall impact on the game, and has yet to improve much since then.
15 Walter Herrmann
Walter Herrmann had an impressive career prior to his move to the NBA in 2006, and was among the most important players on the 2004 Argentine team that won the Gold medal in the Olympics. His NBA journey was off to a great start with the Charlotte Hornets as Herrmann displayed that his game could translate to the league just as it did outside of it. His sophomore year wasn't good by any means, and ended up being cut short due to an injury. He would only play two more seasons in the league, both of which were also disappointing as Herrmann struggled to remain healthy throughout the season.
14 Yi Jianlian
Yi Jianlian had a good rookie season for the Milwaukee Bucks although he missed a number of games due to injuries. That didn't stop the team from dealing him in the offseason in exchange of Richard Jefferson. Yi struggled early on for the Brooklyn Nets in his first season with the team and second overall, especially as his shot wasn't falling down at a good rate. His lack of improvement and on-court struggles led many to wonder whether Yi was good enough to be in the NBA, especially since he also had a number of injuries throughout the year. Yi only played three more years in the NBA before opting to rejoin the CBA.
13 Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans had a historic first season in the league that made him Rookie of the Year with expectations that he would develop into a superstar. His impressive stats made him a standout in his class, and the Sacramento Kings believed to have finally found their franchise player. Unfortunately, Evans couldn't replicate the same performances in his sophomore year. While it wasn't a massive decline across the board, Evans was putting up empty stats on a bad team as his efficiency had gone down. It also became apparent that he had many flaws in his game that would limit him in the future.
12 Jamario Moon
Jamario Moon was already 28 years old as a rookie for the Toronto Raptors, but he played an important role for the team that year. Fans believed that he could fill in the void at Small Forward at last due to his outstanding athleticism, while averaging 8.5 PPG and 6.2 RPG. He was named Eastern Conference Rookie Of The Month that season, although Moon never came quite close to matching those heights again in his career including a disappointing sophomore campaign. He went on to have stints with various NBA teams before he found himself out of the league in 2012.
11 Terrence Williams
The New Jersey (at the time) Nets believed they had found a gem on their hands with Terrence Williams. Selected with the 11th pick of the 2009 Draft, Williams had all the tools to become a great player and showed moments of brilliance throughout his rookie season, including a triple double performance against the Chicago Bulls. While he had a good rookie season in limited minutes, his second year got off to a disappointing start and the Nets immediately lost patience with him as he struggled on the court. Williams was sent for a stint in the D-League before the team opted to deal him to the Houston Rockets.
10 Jonny Flynn
Drafted with the 6th pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 Draft, Jonny Flynn was supposed to be apart of the core for many years to come. He had a strong rookie campaign averaging 13.5 PPG and 4.4 APG, although he never came close to replicating those numbers later on. In his sophomore season, Flynn averaged only 5.3 PPG and 3.4 APG and he would only stick around for two more NBA seasons - both of which were cut short due to nagging injuries. It is possible that he would have been able to fulfill his potential if he had remained healthy.
9 Richard Dumas
Taken with the 46th pick of the 1991 Draft, many believed that Richard Dumas was the steal of the class due to an impressive rookie season in which he averaged 15.8 PPG. He would miss out on the next season as the league had suspended him for substance abuse, so Dumas' sophomore more year took place the season afterwards. The Phoenix Suns were disappointed in his contributions to the team as Dumas only averaged 5.5 PPG, which was a massive decline from his rookie season. He would only go on to play another year in the NBA before starting a journey away from the league.
8 Charlie Villanueva
The Toronto Raptors had two first round picks in the 2005 Draft and were hoping to select some top talent as the team struggled plenty following the Vince Carter trade. With the 7th pick, the Raptors chose Charlie Villanueva who instantly impressed on the court, making it to the All-Rookie First Team. Given the team's needs for a Point Guard, they had to part ways with Villaneuva in order to acquire T.J. Ford - and Villanueva wasn't quite the same in his sophomore season. His stats took a hit in nearly every category as the flaws in his game became more evident.
7 Landry Fields
The New York Knicks believed that they had found a gem in the 2010 Draft with the 39th pick, as Landry Fields had brilliant displays in his first year to become a member of the All-Rookie First Team. But that turned out to be the peak of his career as Fields regressed in his sophomore year with his three-point shoot disappearing, which ultimately hurt him in the long run. While he did have a reputation as a good defensive player, it wasn't quite as consistent as his first year in the NBA. Fields would go on to play three more seasons for the Toronto Raptors before he was forced to retired due to an injury.
6 Adam Morrison
Based on his impressive college career, it's no surprise that Adam Morrison was taken with the 3rd overall pick of the 2006 Draft. He had a solid rookie campaign averaging 11.8 PPG, although it was clear that much needed improvements were required for his game to translate smoothly into the NBA. A torn ACL in the pre-season of what was supposed to be his sophomore season put him out of action for the entire year, and he returned with a disappointing campaign in 2008-09 where his PPG average had dropped to 4.5 as he received plenty of criticism among fans.
5 Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas had a good start to his NBA career, making the Philadelphia 76ers believe that he could be an integral part of their core. He averaged 11 PPG on good efficiency so it's no wonder that Thomas was expected to play a bigger role going into the future, but his second year wasn't nearly as good, which led to a decrease of his minutes during the season. Thomas had an even worse third season, and that led the 76ers to trade him away to the Milwaukee Bucks. Thomas would go on to have his best years with the team as he fit into the team system.
4 Bobby Jackson
Bobby Jackson's first year was good enough for him to be named into the All-Rookie Second Team in 1998, as he averaged 11.6 PPG, 4.7 APG and 4.4 RPG for the Denver Nuggets. He was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves the next season and Jackson couldn't replicate the same performances that earned him praise as a rookie. While he did have some moments of brilliance, he wasn't quite as consistent as he had been for the Nuggets. To his credit, Jackson did manage to bounce back from the sophomore slump after a few years, but that happened when he was a member of the Sacramento Kings - winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2003.
3 Marc Jackson
Not to be confused with Mark Jackson who was Rookie of the Year in 1989 and All-Star in 1989, Marc Jackson played his first NBA season in 2000-01 as a member of the Golden State Warriors. The franchise was among the worst in the league at the time, so fans were excited to see a rookie averaging 13.2 PPG and 7.5 RPG off the gate. By his second year, Jackson's numbers were cut in half as his efficiency also dropped down. Having been named to the All-Rookie First Team, Jackson failed to follow up with better performances as he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in his third season.
2 Jahlil Okafor
The third pick of the 2015 Draft had plenty of hype coming into the league and his rookie year only increased his stock among fans. Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.5 PPG and 7 RPG in his first season, so it's only natural that most thought he would build up on his campaign with even better years in the future. However, Okafor began showing signs of decline into his sophomore year as his numbers dropped down across the board. Since then, he has gotten worse with every passing season whenever he stepped on the court, as Okafor has also struggled with injuries along the way.
1 Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams is arguably the worst player in history to have won Rookie of the Year. Since having an impressive first year in the league, MCW is now on his way out of the NBA after having been cut by the Chicago Bulls. He peaked in his NBA debut after leading the Philadelphia 76ers over a win over the Big 3 Miami Heat, nearly putting up a quadruple double in the process. It became apparent by his second season that MCW wasn't quite as good as he appeared, and simply benefited from high usage on one of the worst teams.