There are a handful of lottery picks in every NBA Draft class who don’t play up to expectations or get buried in a team’s depth chart.
It could be because the player struggled to adapt to the NBA game, a team’s player development, or both. But that doesn’t mean time has expired on their careers or that they can’t find success elsewhere.
Here are six players on rookie deals who need new homes.
6. Mohamed Bamba
When the Orlando Magic drafted Bamba, he was viewed as a potential succession plan for center Nikola Vucevic. Then Bamba encountered a midseason injury, Vucevic put together the best season of his NBA career, and management re-signed him to a four-year deal; Bamba’s future in Orlando has never been murkier.
The Texas product is a skillful player. He’s adept at hitting the boards, denying shots, and finishing inside, and he runs the floor well for a big man. From a production standpoint, Bamba has been hindered. In his season and a half in the NBA, he has logged under 20 minutes a game and, consequently, been unable to get into a groove on the offensive end.
Bamba has the skill set to be a starting center in the NBA; it’s just not going to happen in Orlando. He needs a team to take a chance on him.
5. Kris Dunn
While Dunn has started the bulk of his games with the Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen are the keys to the offense, and management drafted point guard Coby White in the first round of last year’s NBA Draft; Dunn is, at best, a secondary source of offense.
Dunn is a crafty point guard. He gets inside off the dribble, is a swift passer, and a sneaky defender. His best season came in his first season with the Bulls (Dunn spent his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves), where he averaged 13.4 points, six assists, 4.3 rebounds, and two steals per game.
For a team looking for a young point guard to take a flier on, Dunn is a risk worth taking. Give him consistent playing time and see what happens. He has shown scattered potential over the last three years.
4. Kevin Knox
When the New York Knicks drafted Kevin Knox, he was viewed as a potential sidekick to Kristaps Porzingis. Well, Porzingis was traded, RJ Barrett is now the team’s future, and Knox is a reserve who has the ball in his hands on a limited basis; the two parties are better off apart.
Knox is in the midst of a tumultuous sophomore season where he’s a reserve. The Kentucky product was drafted as a forward with glaring potential. He gets inside off the dribble with ease, finishes through contact, and while it’s not his strong suit, Knox is willing to hoist up outside jump shots and has improved a bit defensively this season. In his rookie season, he averaged 12.8 points per game.
Knox is a vertical threat and has the upside to be a versatile scorer; it’s just not going to be with the Knicks.
3. Malik Monk
The NBA hasn’t been kind to Malik Monk. While there have been times where he has been deadly from beyond the arc, the cons have severely outweighed the pros.
Monk has been wildly inconsistent and inefficient and is yet to start a game. Meanwhile, he has fallen behind other young players in the Charlotte Hornets rotation such as Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges.
Monk entered the league with a two-way skill set. He plays plausible on-ball defense, hoists up outside jump shots with ease, and isn’t afraid to shoot off the dribble. He projected to be the modern-day three-and-d player. That potential still exists for Monk. A change of scenery is needed for that reclamation, however.
If he becomes a more steady shooter and complementary defender, Monk could be a reliable off-guard.
2. Jerome Robinson
The Los Angeles Clippers had two first-round draft picks in 2018. They were used on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Gilgeous-Alexander is blossoming into one of the best two-way guards in the NBA — with the Oklahoma City Thunder — and Robinson is on the Clippers bench. There are few players in the sport who need a trade more than Robinson.
In his two seasons in the NBA, Robinson has received minimal playing time, appeared in just 72 games, and has started just one game. On a team that’s contending for a championship with a handful of eccentric scorers (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lou Williams), Robinson has close to no chance of making a resonant impact.
It’s just Robinson’s second season in the NBA. There’s still time for him to gradually blossom into a reliable scorer.
1. Lonnie Walker
When your head coach publicly blasts you — albeit it seems Lonnie Walker has garnered some trust from his head coach, Gregg Popovich — and you receive little playing time, chances are your future with the team is on thin ice. This is the predicament Walker finds himself in with the San Antonio Spurs.
Walker has appeared in just 55 games in his year and a half in the NBA and has been shaky on the defensive end. On the other hand, he finds crafty ways to finish inside off the dribble when called upon and is a career 40.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
Walker has the tools to, at the very least, be an offensive spark plug off the bench. With Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills, and Derrick White present, there’s little playing time available in San Antonio for Walker; the niche has to come elsewhere.