A lot of expectations comes with being a first-round draft pick in the NBA. If a first-rounder doesn’t perform up to par with what is expected of him, he will get berated by fans and media alike. It is too early to label these seven guys as busts, but if their second year is anything like their first, they are in deep, deep trouble going forward.
Usually when a late first-rounder starts in multiple games his rookie season, it is a telltale sign of a smart pick. For Terrance Ferguson, this idea falls totally flat. Ferguson may have started in 12 games for OKC, but he earned those minutes solely because Andre Roberson went down injured. In 61 games played, Ferguson averaged 3.1 points per game and neither his rebounds or assists per game topped 0.8. He hasn’t shown much improvement in Summer League, either.
Lottery picks have little room for error in their first season. Teams that are bad enough to receive lottery picks need their first-round selections to perform or else that team will be getting another lottery run-out the next season. And former No. 11 pick Malik Monk was terrible in his first year. Supposed to be a day one starter, Monk was stuffed into a backup role behind Nicolas Batum from the outset. In 13.6 minutes per game, Monk averaged 6.7 points and 1.4 assists. Monk and Kemba walker were supposed to make up a terrifying backcourt. It didn’t happen.
Injuries plagued Jonathan Isaac’s first season with the Orlando Magic. The sixth pick from a year ago only played a total of 27 games in the 2017 season, starting in 10. With averages of 5.4 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game to his name, Isaac has publicly talked about his disappointment with his rookie year. In an important second campaign, Isaac needs to prove the Magic didn’t draft a dud with their top pick.
The Sacramento Kings are looking very smart for trading away Zach Collins to the Blazers just moments after drafting him. So far in Portland, Collins has been… terrible. 4.4 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game is nothing to be proud of. The thing is, it’s not like he’s getting zero minutes, as he averaged almost 16 per contest. That doesn’t bode well for a Blazers team coming off an absolute thrashing in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Pelicans.
Like Collins, Justin Patton was traded on draft night. With the 16th pick in 2017, the Chicago Bulls drafted Patton and then promptly shipped him off to the Timberwolves. An injury had them send Patton to the G League, where he went on to average 12.7 points over 38 games, but he just hasn’t had an NBA impact of any kind yet.
T.J. Leaf might have to thank Lonzo Ball for helping him get drafted in the first round. Ball’s pass-happy nature allowed for Leaf to average 16.3 points per game in addition to his 8.2 rebounds at UCLA, but Leaf’s college numbers make his NBA statistics look like a joke. For the Indiana Pacers, Leaf has averaged 2.9 points per game and 1.5 rebounds on 8.7 minutes per game. The playing time Leaf got with the Pacers last season should speak for itself as to whether Ball had anything to do with Leaf’s college success.
Markelle Fultz might have been the weirdest story of the 2017 NBA season (take into account this was also the season where Kevin Durant and Bryan Colangelo got cozy with social media burner accounts, J.R. Smith threw soup at an assistant coach, Kawhi Leonard disappeared, etc.). Dealing with a shoulder injury early on in the season, Fultz forgot how to shoot the basketball. You heard that right. The man who was selected with the first pick in the draft forgot how to do the single biggest thing he was drafted to do. Even when Fultz returned to the court, he never did look like the player that the 76ers were hoping for coming out of Washington.