Up until the ball tips-off for real in October, everyone has high-hopes and expectations for their incoming NBA rookie class. The excitement and faith in those players can quickly fade once the season gets going, however. While it is unfair to judge a rookie to soon, it usually doesn’t take too long to see what type of player the kid may become.
It also seems that rookies are coming in and making bigger impacts than in the past.
Take Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum for example. Those players all came in and made huge impacts in their inaugural season, becoming true difference-makers for the respected squads. Simmons and Mitchell each led their teams to the second round of the playoffs, despite Philadelphia and Utah coming into the season with lower expectations.
At the same time, there are even more high draft picks that make little to no impact at all for their team in their rookie season. The list of lottery pick bust’s is a long one, and there will be some from the 2018 draft class as well. Below is the top five most likely busts (in my opinion) from the 2018 NBA Draft.
5. Jerome Robinson, PF, Los Angeles Clippers
Robinson was a bit of a surprise pick when the Clippers took him of the board at #13 overall. He was seen by most as a late first rounder and while he definitely has some upside, there is valid concerns as well. He isn’t very athletic and though listed at 6’5″, he has a small build for today’s NBA.
Robinson struggled against some of the bigger defenders he has faced. He also has numerous veterans such as Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams currently ahead of him in the rotation, limiting his potential court time. It may be a long first year for the Boston College product.
4. Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Memphis Grizzles
Jackson will be relied upon heavily in Memphis after being picked ahead of elite prospects such as Luka Doncic. Even at 6’11”, Jackson isn’t an imposing force on the block and has a long way to go to be a consistent post-scorer.
He’ll have to get more physical to become a good defender down-low, something that is mandatory in Memphis. Jackson jr. also has shown a lot of emotion on the court, a trait that can sometimes work against him. Jackson Jr. may become a useful player but it’s hard to see him paying off his draft capital.
3. Troy Brown, SG, Washington Wizards
There isn’t one thing that Brown does at an elite level at the moment. Brown has had trouble getting to the basket and once he’s there, finishing at the rim has been a struggle. Bradley Beal will see the majority of the minutes at shooting guard and the Wizards have a bevy of other wings. It will be tough for Brown to make a big impact this year in Washington.
2. Trae Young, G, Atlanta Hawks
This one may come back to bite me. Young has the upside of a superstar. Like mega, generational, Steph Curry-esq superstar. Either that or the 6’2″ guard may be one of the biggest busts in recent memory. Young can flat-out shoot the ball, there is no doubting that.
He looked okay in the Summer League and has made waves with a number of workout videos. When the games matter, and NBA defense’s have game plans specifically made to stop you, it may not look as good though. Young made his name off of volume in college and while he will get a ton of opportunities with the Hawks, he’ll have to improve his efficiency to be successful.
Young will need to prove he can contribute in other ways and still be a factor when his shot isn’t falling. I have my doubts.
1. Marvin Bagley, PF, Sacramento Kings
Bagley dominated in his lone season at Duke, leaving people wondering if he’d be the top pick in June’s NBA Draft. He struggled mightily in the Summer League, however, and there are signs that lead me to believe the those problems will continue through his NBA career.
His offensive game was exposed as defenses forced him to try and play hero ball. It led to Bagley being unsure of himself and at times, hesitant to even put shots up. He ended up shooting just 33% from the field. He can’t shoot well enough to play a ton on the perimeter, yet he doesn’t possess the post moves to consistently dominate the paint.
Bagley also projects to be just an average, at best, defender, capping his upside as an overall player. If there was one top five pick I would have steered clear of, Bagley’s the guy.