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Enough Already: Third-Year NBA Players To Give Up On

Promise. It's become a bad word in sports at this point, because we so often use it to justify why we're still holding out hope for certain players who just haven't put it all together yet.

At some point, you have to admit that promise isn't going to be fulfilled. A player's third season is a good time to make that acknowledgment, so let's spend some time doing that.

Below, I'll be looking at third-year NBA players who aren't living up to the hype. Don't spend a valuable fantasy pick on them in the hopes that they'll suddenly figure out professional basketball.

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Markelle Fultz (PG, Orlando Magic)

As a supporter of Markelle Fultz, it's tough to admit this, but we need to stop expecting Fultz to suddenly be fixed.

The first pick back in 2017, Fultz has dealt with mysterious shoulder issues that have completely robbed him of the shooting ability that made him a 41.3 percent three-point shooter in his one year at Washington. Instead, Fultz is a 4-for-15 from deep in his NBA career, and through two seasons he's been limited to just 33 total games.

The Sixers tried to figure something out with Fultz to open last season, inserting him into the starting lineup to see if he could get his shot back and if the rest of his game was still there, but things ultimately didn't work out. In 15 starts, Fultz averaged nine points per game to go along with 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He shot 41.2 percent from the field as a starter.

The biggest issue last year was Fultz shot well near the rim -- 64.8 percent -- and then bad everywhere else. He took 88 jump shots, sinking a paltry 29.5 percent of them, and was shut down after 19 games. The Sixers eventually dealt him to Orlando, and Fultz never appeared in a game for the Magic.

The third-year guard should get some run with Orlando this season, but it's hard to have high hopes for him. His shooting form is pretty much gone and no amount of offseason videos of him shooting in an empty gym are going to make me suddenly believe that his form is back. Without a viable jump shot, Fultz doesn't really have much of a place in the NBA because he's not big enough to not shoot the ball. Former teammate Ben Simmons is a good example of a non-shooting guard who can work, but Fultz isn't Simmons.


Josh Jackson (F, Memphis Grizzlies)

Josh Jackson is the second of the two guys on this list to not be on team that drafted them. Not being on the team that drafted you this early into your career isn't usually a good sign.

Also not a good sign: Being traded along with another player and two second-round picks for Jevon Carter and 2019 Kyle Korver.

Unlike Fultz, who still has some "well, we haven't really seen enough of him yet to make too many judgments" stuff going on, Jackson has played in 156 games so far in his career and has started in 64 of them.

Jackson averaged 11.5 points per game last season, but it was a really empty 11.5, and he shot 41.3 percent from the floor. Jackson also grabbed 4.4 rebounds and dished out 2.3 assists per contest. Those 2.3 assists were an improvement from his rookie year; his scoring and rebounding averages and his field goal percentage were all worse than they were during his first season, however. That's a third bad sign.

Maybe Memphis can be a fresh start for Jackson, but most early depth charts have him projected to be a fringe rotation guy. Could you really see Memphis playing him over Kyle Anderson, Jae Crowder, Dillon Brooks...I mean, can you even imagine him playing over Bruno Caboclo at this point? I can't. Jackson just doesn't offer enough.


Frank Ntilikina (PG, New York Knicks)

I debated which Knicks point guard belonged on this list, but I'm going to go with the one they didn't just trade for. Dennis Smith Jr. was acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade and while he hasn't been overly impressive yet in his NBA career, he's shown enough to be the likely starter at the point for New York.

Frank Ntilikina was selected in that same draft class, and he's shown the Knicks just enough for them to keep him on the team, but little enough for them to bring in Elfrid Payton and demote Ntilikina to the third point guard role, which essentially puts him on the outside looking in of the Knicks rotation.

As seems to be a trend so far on this list, Ntilikina has struggled as a shooter so far in his career, which has limited his output. He's also struggled to get on the floor, averaging 21 minutes per game last year in 43 appearances. A groin injury ended his season early, but even before that injury it looked like Ntilikina's place in the rotation was fading away.

Through two seasons, the French guard is averaging 5.9 points per game and shooting 35.4 percent from the field. He took 40 percent of his shot attempts last three from three-point range for some reason despite shooting just 28.7 percent on those shots. Something isn't clicking here and unless there are injuries, I highly doubt we see Ntilikina on the floor enough to make him fantasy relevant in even the deepest of leagues.


Malik Monk (G, Charlotte Hornets)

I really go back and forth on Malik Monk and what I think about him, but ultimately he was a 33 percent shooter from deep on 4.5 attempts per game who doesn't rebound or give you assists, steals, or blocks. He's never started an NBA game and his best months last season were at the beginning of the year.

You don't like when you see young players fall off as the season progresses, but after the All-Star break, Monk averaged just 5.2 points per game on 34 percent shooting in 19 appearances. His numbers dropped across the board over that sample and he played just 13.7 minutes per game.

I think there's still something to Malik Monk, but I'm not betting on that something panning out this season. Monk probably gets an increased workload just because the Hornets are going to be some combination of bad and shallow this year, but there's a much better chance we see Dwayne Bacon make a major leap as the team's two than that we see Monk make any major strides. His best case seems to be putting up some 2018-2019 Josh Jackson empty stat lines, which can definitely have some place on some fantasy rosters, but I struggle to see a scenario where he's more than that, and Jackson's season from last year might be asking for too much of a statistical leap.

The Hornets replaced Kemba Walker with Terry Rozier, so someone is going to have to take on a higher offensive workload. It might be Monk, but I don't see him excelling if that's the case.

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