Very Recent NBA Draft Picks with Careers on the Line
They can't all work out.
A few recent first-round NBA draft picks have had some rough starts to their careers. Some might be in jeopardy of watching them unravel before they begin.
Whether it's due to personal issues, basketball struggles or just poor team fits, the following rookies could be fighting for their NBA lives in 2013-14.
Royce White, Philadelphia 76ers
A team is only going to accommodate Royce White's schedule if he can bring something to the table. And there's only so long it will wait to see results.
The Houston Rockets already reached their threshold. If it doesn't work out in Philadelphia, I can't imagine there's going to be a long line of coaches waiting at White's door.
"So, he's a hassle, costs money and has no NBA production to show for it," seems like a logical thing for a general manager to say before choosing to look elsewhere for a forward.
White's feud with the Rockets was exactly what so many teams wanted to avoid when passing him on draft day. He's a unique individual with an equally unique game, but the amount of extra baggage he comes with might not be worth the fee.
He'll suit up for the Sixers this preseason, and with Arnett Moultrie out til at least January, there's a real opportunity here for White to get his career on track.
Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns
Kendall Marshall was set up for failure in Phoenix when the Suns drafted him just two weeks before signing Goran Dragic.
This offseason, the team made a deal to bring in Eric Bledsoe and draft combo guard Archie Goodwin. It seems fairly clear the Suns don't have much faith in Marshall, who's barely getting off the bench this preseason.
Though a great passer, his lack of breakdown quickness, athleticism and scoring skills is really an unattractive package of weaknesses—especially in today's game where nearly every team has an electrifying point guard.
Marshall didn't make noise in summer league, and doesn't project to play much of a role this year in Phoenix. He'll have to make the best of his next opportunity, assuming he gets another one, in order to keep the dream alive of being an everyday NBA player.
Fab Melo, Dallas Mavericks (Training Camp Roster)
A year after selecting Fab Melo with the No. 22 pick, the Boston Celtics came to the conclusion he wasn't an NBA-caliber player. Two weeks after acquiring him, the Memphis Grizzlies did the same.
He's now with the Dallas Mavericks in training camp, a team with Samuel Dalembert, Brandon Wright and Bernard James all under contract. If it turns out that three NBA teams have dumped him before year No. 2, his short-term image and value could take catastrophic hits.
There is hope, however. Melo started playing basketball extremely late and was always regarded as a long-term prospect. Nobody said he'd be ready by the time he's an NBA sophomore.
It might take some time in the D-League or overseas, but Melo is going to have to restore some of that promise he made as the anchor for Syracuse.
MarShon Brooks, Boston Celtics
MarShon Brooks can play—the question is whether or not he can do so within the flow of an offense.
There's not a big margin for error with players like Brooks. He's a one-on-one scorer who's forced to take and make a lot of difficult shots.
The Celtics drafted him late in the 2011 first round before immediately dealing him to the Nets. After failing to make an impression in year No. 2, the Nets ended up trading him back to Boston where he'll start the next chapter of his career in 2013-14.
Unfortunately, he currently sits behind Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford on the depth chart. And it's never a good look to be a benchwarmer for a lousy team—especially for a player who might be without a contract next season.
Brooks is going to have to find a way to make this rotation so he can at least audition for teams in case the Celtics decline his option.
There's no doubt Brooks can score, but he'll have to find a way to differentiate himself in Boston.
Jan Vesely, Washington Wizards
After two NBA seasons, Jan Vesely still hasn't left the starting line.
It's usually a bad sign when a player gets his minutes slashed as a sophomore. Vesely hasn't shown much of anything, besides confusion, so far in what's been a disappointing few years in Washington.
A raw but physically gifted athlete from Czech Republic, Vesely was actually a standout this summer during FIBA play. But maybe that's just it. Not all international prospects were meant to play the faster, more open NBA game. He wouldn't be the first top-10 international pick to fall flat in America.
Vesely has another year to prove he can make this transition before the Wizards must decide whether to pick up his $4 million option in 2014-15.
We've seen him make plays driven by his physical tools. This is year he'll have to make them using some basketball-related skills.
Jared Cunningham, Atlanta Hawks
Jared Cunningham was taken No. 24 by the Dallas Mavericks in 2012, though he apparently wasn't very convincing. The Mavs found him expendable before Year No. 2, shipping him off to Atlanta on draft night a year later.
After a year of various D-League stints and lingering knee tendonitis, Cunningham will look to bounce back in Atlanta, where he'll have to fight off Lou Williams, Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and DeMarre Carroll for minutes.
It will be an uphill battle just for Cunningham to get noticed. And if he falls out of favor in Atlanta, he could have a tough time attracting attention from potential suitors around the league.
An athletic combo guard with size for both backcourt positions, Cunningham will have to prove his ability to attack the rim is more valuable than John Jenkins' shooting stroke.
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