Even NBA lottery picks need multiple years to get acclimated. But some are running out of time.
For these struggling young players, the level of urgency varies by case. But this coming year will still be a make-or-break season for their overall value.
Teams may start to lose confidence in these once-highly touted draft picks who could be playing for their 2020-21 salaries.
Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
Despite Malik Monk's stardom at Kentucky, there were enough questions about his NBA fit that led to his slide outside the top 10 in the 2017 draft. But his perceived value took a bigger hit in 2018-19 as he received DNPs as a second-year player on a lottery team.
Failing to make a big jump in 2020 may not put his career in jeopardy, but his second contract won't reflect a traditional lottery pick's.
Known for scoring and shot-making out of college, Monk offers little outside of jump-shooting, and his jump-shooting hasn't been reliable. His three-point mark fell to 33.0 percent from 34.2 percent last season. He shot under 40.0 percent from the floor, again, while adding minimal value as a passer (1.6 assists to 1.2 turnovers), rebounder (1.9 per game) or defender. Charlotte was better last year when Monk wasn't on the floor.
With the Hornets forced into tank mode by Kemba Walker's decision to leave, Monk's development should be a priority this year in Charlotte. The front office needs to know what it has in the No. 11 pick before deciding whether to make another commitment.
A poor season would likely lead to Charlotte moving on and teams around the league losing faith in Monk's trajectory and potential impact.
Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons
Thon Maker's value has been all over the place since he surfaced as a teenage public figure—from prodigy early in high school to predraft question mark after skipping college to a shocking No. 10 overall pick, rookie playoff contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks and now a backup in Detroit entering a make-or-break season.
Still a mediocre shooter and rail-thin big, Maker has yet to average more than 20.0 minutes per game for either team he's played for.
The 7'1" center shot 37.3 percent after joining the Pistons last season. The idea of a switchable big is appealing, but that alone can't carry his value through all the offensive inefficiency and lack of physical presence inside.
Thoughts of a high-upside prospect have faded. His identity as a reserve is solidifying. But at this point, Maker's NBA money-making skill or strength still isn't clear. Backing up Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, he'll have one last shot to prove his worth in the final guaranteed year of his rookie contract.
Dragan Bender, Milwaukee Bucks
The No. 4 pick in 2016, Dragan Bender had an uneventful three years in Phoenix before the Suns declined his option.
He never averaged more than 6.5 points or shot better than 45.0 percent on a bad team that offered opportunities.