The moment an NBA player’s rookie season ends, expectations immediately go up.
As his career moves on, the expectations don’t lessen, they only increase. Maturity is expected to be coupled with more efficient offensive play and an understanding of every situation that comes in an NBA game; unfortunately, for a lot of players, that just never happens. The promise and potential that comes with youth gives way to mediocrity for many as they enter their mid to late 20s, and concede their positions to younger, faster players with the aforementioned potential.
Age isn’t always the determining factor, however, and players who never fulfill their potential often still linger around the league making millions for seasons to come. This assessment is by no means a damnation of these players, but merely an observation of the ways they’ve failed to meet their expectations.
10. Devin Harris-After coming over in the Marvin Williams trade, the eight year veteran is averaging his worst numbers since his rookie year despite receiving a starting role for half of the season and playing in the best lineup he has ever been a part of. While Harris is playing out of position as a two guard most of the time, he is also looking at more open shots and empty lanes to penetrate and kick. He is currently averaging a disappointing 7.7 points and 2.5 assists per game.
9. Trevor Booker-Last season Booker stepped in and provided an important presence for the Wizards averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, enough to earn him a starting role toward the end of the campaign. This season, however, Booker came out the gate weak averaging 6.8 points, 5.6 assists and the worst shooting percentage of his career (45.3%) before going down with a knee injury that required a platelet-rich plasma shot (PRP) that seems to have sidelined him indefinitely.
8. Rashard Lewis-Brought into become a part of the starting lineup and allow the Heat to be able to rely on outside shooters for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to kick it out to, Lewis has been as disappointing in South Beach as he as everywhere else he’s played since leaving Seattle. Lewis is averaging his worst numbers since his rookie season in 1998-99 at 5.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
7. Brendan Haywood-Granted, he was never a great center. His game has always been lacking in key areas and he’s never grown into a primetime player over 11 seasons in the NBA, but having been shipped from Dallas to the league’s bottom dweller, Haywood had the chance to be a leader and make an impact with a franchise that is otherwise pretty young. Instead, he’s averaging a meager 5 points per game and has been replaced in the starting lineup by second year man Bismack Biyombo.
6. Josh McRoberts-Not that McRoberts was ever going to steal Glen Davis’ starting role at power forward, but having come over in the Dwight Howard deal, Magic fans were hoping that he would at least provide them with the high flying highlight reel busting dunks that made him popular in Indiana. In Orlando, the sixth year man came into a team where with a bit of fight, he could earn himself a regular spot in the rotation, but instead, he has lost out a lot of minutes to developing rookies and played an average of 15 minutes in which he scores 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.
5. Ivan Johnson-After grabbing the attention of analysts in his rookie season with his gritty play on the boards and defensive awareness, Johnson has failed to take the next step with the Hawks. Having come into the league at 27-years old, Johnson’s window for success is small and he’ll have to exploit every opportunity if he wants to be in the league into his thirties, but he’s yet to garner serious minutes from Larry Drew, playing 13 minutes per game averaging 6 points and 3 rebounds.
4. Jameer Nelson-Having played in the shadow of Dwight Howard for his entire career, there has never been a better time for Nelson to show what he’s made of than this season. He’s been handed the keys to the Magic offense and yet, even when given complete control, Nelson averages 12 points and 6.5 assists per game. At age 30, Nelson is on the back end of his career and will never be anything more than what he is, a mediocre score first point guard.
3. Ben Gordon-Costing the Bobcats $25 million over the next two seasons, Gordon is Charlotte’s highest paid player. Despite this, he doesn’t start and plays around 21 minutes per game where he averages 12 points and 2 assists. Those numbers are a paltry return on such a large investment, one Charlotte will be more comfortable having next year as an expiring contract.
2. Mario Chalmers-After having a major impact on the Heat’s championship run, Chalmers has almost disappeared from the lineup. He is averaging near career lows at 6.7 points and 3.7 assists per game and is losing minutes consistently to second year guard Norris Cole. Things don’t look good for Chalmers long term future in Miami, but he has the starting role for now. Every season has been a gradual decline for Chalmers after his sensational rookie year in which he averaged 10 points and 5 assists. If he can back to those type numbers, he can still turn things around.
1. Jan Vesely-After being taken sixth overall in the 2011 draft, Vesely was given time to develop last year. But coming into this season, it was supposed to be a coming out party for the 22-year old Czech which has instead turned almost into a funeral. Having made just four starts all season, Vesely averages just 11 minutes per game and has scored a total of 31 points in 16 appearances. He has now lost his job to just about everybody on the Wizards lineup as he hasn’t featured in the Wizards last two games.