In the NBA AM today, Steve Kyler went over the extension possibilities for the members of the 2011 NBA Draft Class who are still on their rookie contracts. They have until October 31 to try to negotiate an extension with their respective teams, otherwise they will become restricted free agents, assuming a qualifying offer is made.
They say it takes three years to truly grade and evaluate a draft class, but there were a couple of first round picks in the 2011 draft that didn’t even get that long before they were let out of their rookie deals. In today’s NBA PM, we take a look at those who didn’t develop as expected, and as a result are either out of the NBA or have their NBA careers hanging by a thread.
Position Drafted – Player Name (Team that drafted/Acquired draft rights)
6 – Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards)
At 24 years of age, the former sixth overall selection finds himself out of the league and signed on to play in Turkey for the next three years. Vesely didn’t leave the NBA without a few impressive highlights, but the seven footer with great athleticism sorely lacked feel for the game. He had ample opportunities with the Washington Wizards before being traded to the Denver Nuggets midway through last season, but things just never clicked for Vesely, not for an extended period of time at least. He probably could have gotten a training camp invite, but opted to go overseas, which is honestly the best thing for him. The tremendous speed of the NBA game and all of its intricacies were too much for him. At the time, Vesely was an extremely promising prospect, but with hindsight being 20-20, coming over to the NBA right away was a mistake. He was too raw and unprepared for what was ahead. Writing off a 24-year-old may sound crazy, but given how the last three years went for him, it’s hard to imagine Vesely is in a rush to try to get back in to the NBA.
10 – Jimmer Fredette (Sacramento Kings)
While let out of his rookie contract after a disappointing tenure with the Sacramento Kings, Fredette has a fully-guaranteed contract for this season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Make no mistake about it, though, the clock is ticking on his NBA career in a fast manner and on the outset it does not seem like he’s in a great position to extend it with the Pelicans. This is a team that was torn apart by injuries last year, and a repeat of that seems to be the only way that Fredette is going to get a serious chance in a crowded backcourt that already has Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Austin Rivers and Russ Smith vying for minutes. Due to his collegiate career, Fredette often finds himself the target of mass fanfare still, but his inability to defend his position or create for his teammates has NBA executives much less enthusiastic about him.
18 – Chris Singleton (Washington Wizards)
This was the second part of a disastrous draft for the Wizards, but it obviously didn’t set them back too badly as they’re now one of the young, emerging powers in the Eastern Conference. With a lot of the same brass in place from the 2011 draft, though, they have to kick themselves at times over just how badly they missed with their two first round picks. To not be able to turn one of their two top 18 picks into a certifiable player is the absolute worst-case scenario. Singleton was projected to go much higher and seemed like a steal at the time of his selection, but his shutdown perimeter defense from college didn’t translate, nor did his perimeter skills develop as hoped. That’s why he’s now with the Indiana Pacers on a camp invitation and trying to transition into a stretch power forward.
21 – Nolan Smith (Portland Trail Blazers)
After an extremely successful career at Duke, Smith came to the NBA with concerns about being positionless and his lack of elite speed/athleticism. In two years with the Trail Blazers, Smith saw just over a year’s worth of action, appearing in 84 games total. During that time, he struggled mightily to stay on the floor and play an efficient brand of basketball. Like everyone on this list, some untimely injuries worked against him, particularly the ankle injury he suffered in the 2013 Orlando Summer League with the Boston Celtics. Prior to that injury he was expected to join them for training camp, but ended up spending the season in Croatia. He performed his best in Eurocup play, putting up 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals on average in 15 contests. He’s currently signed on to play the 2014-15 season in Turkey.
25 – MarShon Brooks (Boston Celtics)
One of the top-scoring rookies in the NBA back in ’11-12, Brooks played for four different teams the last two years and now finds himself set to spend the next season in Italy playing in the Euroleague. In seven games with the Sacramento Kings in the 2014 NBA Summer League, Brooks put up 10.6 points on 53 percent from the field a game. NBA teams don’t question Brooks’ ability to score the basketball, he’s proven that on many occasions. He never managed to prove himself in the other aspects of the game like he needed to, though. At 25 years of age a comeback for Brooks isn’t out of the question, as he probably could have held out for an eventual training camp invite this season if he wanted to go that route. After all the packing he did in the last 12 months, some stability to truly be able to work on his weaknesses rather than defaulting to his strengths in order to prove himself in a constantly-changing environment could serve him well.
26 – Jordan Hamilton (Denver Nuggets)
In a similar position as Brooks despite having less success in the league so far, Hamilton has opted to try to earn his way onto the Toronto Raptors rather than going the overseas. He’s shown some nice glimpses of what he can do offensively, but not consistently enough to outweigh his inability to make a difference in other ways. At 23 years of age and as a tremendous athlete, he’s a very easy gamble to take on a low-dollar deal. He currently has a partial guarantee of just $25,000. Unless he wins the 15th spot in training camp, look for Hamilton to likely end up in the D-League, where the up tempo style of play suits him perfectly and could help him make a quick, midseason return.
27 – JaJuan Johnson (Boston Celtics)
Johnson was looked at as a proven product coming out of Purdue, where he put up 20 points and eight rebounds a game his senior year. Yet, at 25 years old, he only has 36 games of experience and does not appear to be on his way back to the NBA anytime soon. Johnson spent a lot of time in the NBA’s Development League, where he was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. He wasn’t supposed to be there long, but his struggles at the NBA level followed him in the D-League. The increased level of physicality and athleticism proved to be too much for him to adjust to. After steadily improving in college, Johnson’s development just came to a screeching halt and never started back up. Last season Johnson was in the Italian League, where he put up 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. He’s headed to the Turkish Basketball League in 2014-15 after an underwhelming performance with the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2014 NBA Summer League.
As the above show, being a first round pick hardly guarantees success. As a second round pick, success is even more unlikely. The 2011 second round picks are actually fairly well represented in the NBA, though, with over a third being signed or on training camp rosters.
31 – Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets): Signed to a three-year, $10 million deal this summer after spending the last three years in Turkey.
33 – Kyle Singler (Detroit Pistons): In the final year of a three-year deal that has a $1 million qualifying offer for next year in order to make him a restricted free agent. Spent first year out of college in Spain; was a steady contributor for the Pistons last year.
38 – Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets): Signed a max-level offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, which the Houston Rockets declined to match after an impressive three-year rise to prominence with them. Will make $46 million over the next three years.
34 – Shelvin Mack (Washington Wizards): Received a three-year, $7.3 million contract from the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. Spent some time in D-League prior to catching on with the Hawks.
39 – Jeremy Tyler (Golden State Warriors): Accepted a training camp invite from the Los Angeles Lakers that does not contain any guaranteed money. Has spent time with the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and most recently the New York Knicks, while also playing in the D-League after going overseas before even finishing high school. Likely to return to the D-League.
40 – Jon Leuer (Milwaukee Bucks): In the final year of a three-year, $3 million contract that he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies after playing with the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers previously. The Grizzlies originally acquired Leuer from the Cavaliers in a cost-cutting move in exchange for Marrese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first round pick.
43 – Darius Morris (Los Angeles Lakers): Accepted a training camp invite from the Portland Trail Blazers that does not contain any guaranteed money. Has spent time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and Memphis Grizzlies.
43 – Malcolm Lee (Minnesota Timberwolves): Accepted a training camp invite from the Philadelphia 76ers, that presumably does not include any guaranteed money. His 35 games of NBA action were all seen with the Timberwolves.
50 – Lavoy Allen (Philadelphia 76ers): Signed a one-year contract with the Indiana Pacers this offseason after being traded there by the Philadelphia 76ers midseason.
52 – Vernon Macklin (Detroit Pistons): Accepted a training camp invite from the New Orleans Pelicans that does not include any guaranteed money. All his previous NBA action was with the Detroit Pistons in ’12-13. Since then, he’s played a little bit of summer league, and even less overseas.
55 – E’Tawaun Moore (Boston Celtics): Has a sizeable $425,000 guarantee from the Chicago Bulls and is a likely candidate to spend a large portion, if not all of the season, with them. Spent time previously with the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.
60 – Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings): Turned out to be the steal of the draft. After a strong three years with the Sacramento Kings, he was signed-and-traded by them this offseason to the Phoenix Suns on a four-year, $27 million contract.
The second round picks not mentioned above are playing in various leagues outside of the NBA. Davis Bertans, Milan Macvan, Jon Diebler, Chukwudiebere Maduabum, Tanguy Ngombo, Ater Majok and Adam Hanga are the only ones yet to play a regular season game, but Bertans, whose draft rights the San Antonio Spurs still own, could change that in the coming years.
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