NBA lottery picks are naturally expected to make sophomore jumps the way De'Aaron Fox and John Collins did last season. But teams looking to win now don't always put their young players in position to elevate their games.
Five sophomores stand out as candidates for stalled development based on their 2019-20 projected roles following the draft and free agency. These players would benefit from higher usage rates or different fits based on their teams' offseason additions.
They may not regress this upcoming season, but they also don't seem likely to improve their values.
Kevin Knox, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks front office didn't do Kevin Knox any favors by signing Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Reggie Bullock.
Coach David Fizdale suddenly has an abundance of mouths to feed. Could Knox's 22.3 percent usage rate plateau or even fall? That would make it difficult for the 2018 No. 9 pick to build more confidence and rhythm after a rookie season in which he shot 37 percent.
He won't have many chances to improve his on-ball creation and 0.58 points per possession out of isolation (11th percentile). And with the rotation expected to include Randle, Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr., RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, spacing will continue to be poor. That's a problem for Knox, who struggles to finish in traffic, having just shot 39.7 percent on drives, 48.0 percent in the restricted area and 24.3 percent in the mid-range.
He'll be used mostly as a floor-spacer himself, playing to his strengths as a shot-maker off spot-ups and screens. But for Knox to take a step forward, he'll need to become much sharper off the dribble. And he won't have a suitable opportunity to develop that aspect of his game because of his projected role on this brand-new roster.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
The big question heading into Cleveland Cavaliers training camp is about the backcourt. How will Darius Garland and Collin Sexton be used, and how will Garland's arrival impact Sexton's development?
Our early prediction is the team's 2018 lottery pick won't benefit from the front office's selection of Garland at No. 5 in June.
Sexton, who averaged 16.7 points per game and led the Cavaliers with 14.7 field-goal attempts per game, will lose ball-handling touches as a sophomore. Among players who logged at least 20 minutes per game last year (minimum 50 games), Sexton ranked eighth in the league in dribbles per touch.
More sharing and fewer shots could mean an adjustment and unfamiliar role for Sexton.
Was his 40.2 percent three-point shooting also fluky? Sexton shot 33.6 percent at Alabama (1.3 makes per game), and though it's possible he improved, it wouldn't be shocking if he failed to match last year's accuracy.
Sexton may not regress in 2019-20, but expecting a sophomore jump seems unrealistic, especially since Garland has joined the rotation.
Mo Bamba, Orlando
Mo Bamba's rookie season was cut short by a foot injury, but it's still difficult to picture the 2018 No. 6 pick taking a notable step forward this year.