It is not unusual for a high pick to struggle during his rookie year only to step up and become a big-time player in their second season. Whether it is adjusting to an NBA game or a veteran ahead of them on the depth chart. In the 2016 draft Jaylen Brown was drafted 3rd overall and struggled some his rookie season. He averaged 6.6 points per game while playing in just over 17 minutes a game, shooting 45%. In his second season, he became a starter after Avery Bradley was traded and raised his scoring to 14.6 points per game shooting 46% and almost 40% from three. Jamal Murray was relegated to a bench player his rookie playing just over 20 minutes a game averaging 9.9 points, 2.6 boards, 2 assistssa game shooting 40%. Fast forward to his second year and he’s up to 16.7 points, 3.7 assists and 3 assists while shooting 45% and approaching 40 from three. So I do not get too caught up in high draft picks struggling in their roomie season cause both those examples look like good players. With that said I started to think about who could be this year’s players who can take a step up in their second season.
Markelle Fultz PG, Philadelphia
After being selected with the first overall selection in 2017, not much went right for Fultz. Fultz had a shoulder injury that really spiraled out of control to the point he basically lost his jumper. Whether it was the injury or in his head, Fultz took a long time to see the court. Once he returned he only saw just over 18 minutes a game and struggled to score putting up just 7 points a game. He was able to manage a triple-double in a game but that was his lone bright spot. He did average 3.7 assists a game, looking like he could greatly improve in that area. The only issue with him taking that next step is that the Sixers have been successful with Ben Simmons as their point guard. So Fultz will likely be used in a sixth man role.
Lonzo Ball PG, LA Lakers
I may be one of the few who thought Ball had a decent rookie season. He averaged 10 points a game but put up only 7 boards and over 7 assists a game. His shooting drew the most attention as he shot 36%, but a miserable 30% from 3. With Lebron James joining the Lakers, a lot of pressure will be off Ball. I can see Ball getting better looks with James getting the attention and hopefully will see his three-point percentage improve. Ball is going to get to a point where he is a consistent double-double threat and should be apart of the resurgence with the Lakers.
Malik Monk SG, Charlotte
Monk had a terrible rookie season. Known as a lethal scorer, Monk struggled to get on the floor logging only 13 minutes a game, scoring 6.7. Monk had some woes on the defensive side as well which contributed to his lack of playing time. Monk played a few games during the summer league and look good especially on the offensive side. I think he makes a huge step in the right direction this upcoming season. He still has some veterans in his way on the depth chart, but I expect Charlotte to be actively trying to deal both Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist to free up minutes. The signing of Tony Parker likely means the experiment with Monk at point guard is over. He needs to play off the ball to be successful.
Luke Kennard SG, Detroit
Kennard found himself on the outside looking in most of last season. With the way, the roster is shaking up he has a good chance to start for the Pistons. His defense is also a reason for his inconsistent playing time. With Reggie Bullock, the only real threat to start at shooting guard beside Kennard, he will definitely get the minutes this upcoming season. A new coach will do wonders for Kennard as well. He shot pretty well from three dropping in 41%, but he needs to expand his offense and become a better passer and mid-range shooter. Also once again his improved defense will ultimately decide his playing time, but I think he raises his game to where he can help Detroit.