The 2016 NBA draft class has had its share of ups and downs as rookies. The number one overall pick Ben Simmons has failed to play due to injury, and Malcolm Brogdon has surprised many by being a contender for the rookie of the year award after being selected in the middle of the second round. The top of the draft usually provides teams with players who can have an instant impact for their teams. The 2016 draft class has been a bit underwhelming more than halfway into the 2016-17 NBA season.
The 2016 class was not exaggerated as one of the best there ever was, but many thought there would be a few that could immediately help the team that drafted them. Some of the high picks have under performed early on in their young NBA lives. Other draftees were highly rated high school players who didn’t play great in college and have continued this trend into the NBA. The 2016 NBA draft class has been one of the least exciting classes in recent memory, and some of the guys who heard their name called on draft night are in danger of being branded a bust.
Here are 16 NBA rookies who already look like busts:
16 Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown was the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and when you are selected this high you are expected to produce in the NBA quickly. This has not been the case for the young man out of California. Brown was selected by the Boston Celtics, a team that is already close to contender status and has a solid small forward/power forward in Jae Crowder. This has stunted the development of Brown but is not an excuse for his poor play.
15 Kris Dunn
14 Thon Maker
13 Tyler Ulis
12 Jakob Poeltl
11 Buddy Hield
10 Malachi Richardson
9 Brandon Ingram
8 Wade Baldwin IV
7 Henry Ellenson
6 Denzel Valentine
Many people expected Valentine to be a steal in the draft for the Chicago Bulls as he fell to the end of lottery. Valentine had a successful four year stint at Michigan State University, and followed it up with an impressive summer league outing. Many thought Valentine could have more of an impact than the one and done players that so frequently get drafted high and take time to develop. More than halfway through the season Valentine has failed to live up to the expectations that were placed on him, and has failed to play a major role for the Chicago Bulls thus far.
5 Skal Labissiere
4 Cheick Diallo
3 Diamond Stone
Diamond Stone was a participant in the McDonald's All American game in 2015, and seemed destined for a great professional career. He did not fully live up to his potential at the University of Maryland only averaging 12 points and five rebounds a game. Despite not having a standout season at Maryland Stone went the one and done route, and was fortunate to get drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Pelicans. He was traded on draft night to the Los Angeles Clippers.
2 Dragan Bender
Dragan Bender has been a major disappointment since he was selected fourth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2016 NBA draft. Bender did not have much of a track record coming from overseas, but NBA front offices saw the success that Kristaps Porzingis had at the NBA level in the 2015-16 NBA season and this helped Bender move up the draft boards. Bender has failed to assimilate as easily as Porzingis has. He is shooting poorly at 37 percent from the field, and possesses strikingly low averages of three points and two rebounds per game.
The Suns are in the process of a rebuild, and next season will give Bender an opportunity to improve upon his poor start to his career. If he can’t figure out how to improve next year he will join the ranks of Shawn Bradley and Kwame Brown as big men who struggled after being drafted highly.
1 Ben Simmons
Whenever a first overall pick doesn't play a single game of his rookie season, no matter the reason, there is cause for concern. The 76ers took Ben Simmons first overall last summer and there was hope in Philly that the Sixers' long drought would finally come to an end. However Simmons suffered a fracture in his fifth metatarsal bone last September. He was expected to return at some point this season, but shortly after the trade deadline, the Sixers announced Simmons would miss the rest of the season.
Simmons was recently given a bone marrow injection to accelerate the healing process, so we'll see if he's able to bounce back next season. Any way you slice it though, the injury has to be concerning to the Sixers. Hopefully Simmons is off this list and tearing the league up next season. We sure don't want his career to go down the injury riddled path of Greg Oden.
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