After revisiting the 2018 NBA Draft class and its most surprising players to date, we're now going to look at those who have been the most disappointing so far. To be clear, the players listed here aren't busts; it's just that the start to their careers have been disappointing for different reasons. That could be due to lack of playing time, how they're being used or just subpar performance. That doesn't mean these guys are doomed to be out of the league a year from now. They're all still far too young to be making that assumption.
That said, based on where they were drafted, their performance hasn't matched expectations two and a half years into their NBA careers, especially when compared to the other players who they were drafted around. Here are three players who haven't had the greatest starts to their professional careers.
1. Jerome Robinson, Los Angeles Clippers -- No. 13 pick
In CBS Sports' final mock ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft, Robinson was slated as being a near-lock to go in the top 20, but no one expected the Clippers to reach for him at No. 13. The selection earned a D-plus by our draft gurus, and two-and-a-half years later that grade still looks pretty accurate. Let me be clear, this isn't a knock on Robinson's talents, but rather he really hasn't lived up to being taken 13th overall when players like Michael Porter Jr., Kevin Huerter and Landry Shamet were drafted well below him.
Robinson was drafted onto a championship-contending team where he wasn't going to get any minutes, then was traded to the Wizards as part of the three-team trade that landed the Clippers Marcus Morris. Even now, though, on a bad team with ample opportunity to get minutes and show your worth, Robinson hasn't been able to make a real impact.
Here are Robinson's career stats to date:
There were a few bright moments last season for Robinson, like a game-winning 3-pointer against the Nets. He ended up shooting 34.9 percent from deep in 21 games after being traded to the Wizards, but that hasn't translated over to this season at all. His role has decreased, while playing just 19 minutes in 11 games, and he's shooting 29 percent from long range. Coming out of college, Robinson was heralded for his 3-point shooting, where he shot 37.6 in three seasons at Boston College. But he hasn't been able to knock down that shot with the same consistency in the NBA.
It would be one thing if Robinson was a stout defender to make up for the limited offense he provides, but he's actually worse on that end of the floor. He allows 1.11 points per possession, which ranks in the 10th percentile in the league, and last season he wasn't much better. There's still time, but it's safe to say he hasn't really been able to find his footing in the NBA at all.
2. Troy Brown, Washington Wizards -- No. 15 pick
In the Orlando bubble last season, Brown averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 boards and 4.5 assists while starting in all eight games for the Wizards without Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans there. He showed that if given the keys to the offense, he could deliver. He got a near-triple-double against the Nets, posting 22 points, 10 boards and eight assists, displaying his playmaking ability, court vision and mid-range game.
However, as great as he was in the bubble, that was never going to be his role with a fully healthy Wizards roster. This season, Brown's been pushed down the depth chart, mainly due to his poor 3-point shooting, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone. In his lone season at Oregon, Brown shot just 29.1 percent on 3s, and it was understood that he was going to be a long-term project that needed to work on his shot. Even during his outburst in Orlando, he still only managed to shoot 32 percent from long range.
Yet apparently the Wizards decided to ignore all of that intel, and instead chose to take a player who is essentially a point-forward and turn him into a 3-and-D guy, despite him showing no real ability to be that type of player on either end of the floor. As a result, Brown is shooting 33.1 percent from deep, while averaging 20.4 minutes across 132 appearances.
Suffice to say, Brown's development has been disappointing because of that. It also doesn't help that the Wizards have focused this season on the growth of Deni Avdija, who Washington took in the 2020 draft with the No. 9 pick, and who also plays the same position as Brown.
Brown's situation is the reason his play is disappointing, because on a different team where he could have the ball in his hands to create, his numbers would be better. Even on this team, if Washington gave him control over the second unit and let him go to work with his crafty passes and shooting the ball in rhythm, it would do wonders for his game. Instead, he's clanking 3s off the rim and not offering much on the defensive side of the ball.
3. Kevin Knox, New York Knicks -- No. 9 pick
Knox garnered tons of attention after his summer league performance where he averaged 21.3 points a game, but since then he's done little to warrant being drafted so high in 2018. However, with him being just 21 years old, there's still plenty of time to turn things around.
His numbers aren't actually that bad. In fact, there was a period of time this season where he led the league in corner 3-point percentage. It's just that outside of being a spot-up shooter, he hasn't really shown a ton of offensive upside. The bad also tends to outweigh the good with Knox, where his shots look like this:
His limited offensive ability mixed with his subpar defense has led him to not playing in the last six games for the Knicks. Head coach Tom Thibodeau recently cited New York's depth as the reason for Knox not playing.
"Obviously [Sunday] was the first time we had the entire roster available, so right now we're locked into a 10-man rotation, so he's situational for now," Thibodeau said. "But that doesn't mean it won't change. His shooting is a big part of what we need. So we want him to continue to work. He's an important part of our team."
If Knox's shooting was that essential to what the Knicks do on offense, then he wouldn't be racking up DNP-CDs on the regular. But Thibodeau is right; if he starts to knock down shots consistently from deep, then there would be no reason to keep him buried at the end of the bench.
The other issue that's been talked about regarding Knox so far is his lack of energy and low motor. Thibodeau is huge on playing guys who show grit, and are going to go out there and scrap. If Knox displayed that type of energy on a regular basis he wouldn't be buried behind Reggie Bullock on the depth chart.
You can teach a guy to knock down 3s, but you can't teach them to want to improve at the little thing like hustle and effort. It could be frustration on Knox's part, but there's nothing else he can do other than continue to work on his shot and make the most of his time out there on the court and hope Thibodeau sees that he's putting in the time and worthy of more minutes.