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Right now there are several superstars in the NBA, but plenty of them had to hew their path in order to be the great player they are right now. Regardless if they were drafted as a high or low pick, the players have made themselves superstars thanks to hard work. Future legends and potential hall of famers haven’t had an easy journey, but they overcame bad situations and now are the inspiration for plenty of children across the world.

Here are 15 NBA Superstars who had a bad rookie season.


15. Rajon Rondo

Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Rondo was the #21 pick in NBA’s 2008 Draft, and his first season with the Boston Celtics was an awful one. Averaging 6.1 points and 3.8 assists per game, Rondo didn’t show the potential of a true point guard that we could see after that “painful” season.

Rondo became one of the best point guards in the NBA after the arrival of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to the team, creating one of the best squads in the last decade.


14. Monta Ellis

Ellis is not the exact definition of superstar, however, the point guard had a great development after being selected by the Golden State Warriors in 2005. Ellis barely appeared in 49 games with the Warriors during his rookie season, scoring 6.8 points in just 18.1 minutes per game.

His sophomore season was way better, as he improved both his game and numbers in a huge way. In his second season in the NBA, Ellis scored 16.5 ppg, added 4.1 assists and a very decent shooting percent of 47.5%. Since then, Monta has become an excellent PG, becoming a very reliable scorer.


13. Reggie Miller

“Miller the Killer” is considered one of the best 3-point marksmen who has ever played the game, but his first season in the big league wasn’t too easy for him, as he scored a measly 10.0 points per game, with low numbers in rebounds and assists among others.

After that season, Reggie just worked at his craft until he became the sharpshooter he is now known as today.


12. Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson was drafted by the Boston Celtics as the 10th overall selection back in 2001, but as soon as he arrived in Boston, he had troubles. He averaged 7.5 points per game and a poor 3.3 rebounds in 24.9 mpg.

Even before the season ended, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns where his numbers didn’t get any better. However, he became one of the best players in the NBA with Atlanta, being named All-Star multiple time.


11. Dirk Nowitzki

There is nothing much to say about one of the greatest players in history. Dirk started his path in the NBA struggling to find his role, as he was losing duels against stronger and more athletic rivals. Back in the day, Mavericks’ supporters used to call him “Irk”, due to the lack of “D” in his game.

In his first season, Nowitzki scored only 8.2 points per game and 3.4 rebounds, along with a very low 40.5 shooting percentage. Several years after that, we all witnessed the greatness of the German player.


10. Jeff Teague

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Teague is a wonderful player with plenty of skills that make him one of the most dangerous point guards in the NBA. However, it all didn’t start in the best way for Jeff, as he only played 10.1 minutes per game, scoring 3.2 points per game and giving just 1.7 assists.

He’s now member of the Timberwolves and he played 10 seasons in the league so far.


9. James Harden

Always criticized for his defense, but there is no doubt that James Harden is extremely talented while attacking. At this point, he is considered one of the favorite candidates to win the MVP trophy this season, but in his rookie season, James played like anything but a most valuable player.

Harden played 22.9 minutes per game, scoring 9.9 points per game, adding 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists, shooting 40.3 percent from the field. Both in Oklahoma and Houston, he proved his value, being considered one of the best offensive players in the world right now.


8. DeMar DeRozan

DeMar started his journey in Toronto leaving more doubts than certainties, as DeRozan just scored 8.6 ppg and 0.7 assists in his first season at the Air Canada Centre.

DeRozan has become, if not the most, one of the biggest players in his team, leading the Raptors to the playoffs several years in a row.


7. Jimmy Butler

Jimmy is one of those players who had to earn his spot in this league after most people doubted him. Butler started with the Bulls leaving horrid numbers in his first season. He played 8.6 minutes per game, scored 2.6 ppg and dished out 1.3 assists, his being one of the worst rookie seasons in recent memory.

After that, he didn’t only improve his defensive game but offensively as well, as Jimmy has added something new to his repertoire throughout the years.


6. Deron Williams

Deron Williams was drafted by Utah Jazz in 2005. He was the third overall selection surpassing big names like Chris Paul. During his first season, he was back and forth of the bench, putting up very normal numbers considering his draft position. He scored 10.8 ppg and 4.5 assists a game, seeing action in 28.8 minutes per game.

Although he was named to the NBA All-Rookie team, his rookie numbers were nothing compared to what Deron brought to Utah in the next few seasons.

He became one of the best point guards in the NBA, even making it to the Team USA roster that played in both Beijing and London Olympics games.


5. Gary Payton

Nobody knew what was going to happen with the “Glove” after his horrifying rookie season where he averaged 7.2 points per game and a poor .077% from deep.

Fortunately for Gary and all the basketball fans around the world, he was able to overcome that situation, and lead Seattle to fight for the NBA Championship.


4. Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah began his career playing for the Sacramento Kings, where his numbers were not so good. He played 25.5 minutes per game, scoring 11.5 points and giving just 4.1 assists. His numbers alongside his height made people think he wasn’t able to make it in the NBA, but Isaiah has proved they were wrong, becoming one of the biggest surprises in the NBA and being considered for the MVP award few years ago.

This is the prime example of hard work and success.


3. Kawhi Leonard

In his first season with the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard played 24 minutes per game, scoring 7.1 points and collecting 1.1 assists. Despite his not so good stats, Leonard knew how to improve his game and throughout the seasons he has only enhanced his quality, as right now he is considered the leader of Spurs for the foreseeable future.

It is not a secret how good Kawhi has been this year, and his improvement is more meaningful when you see most teams didn’t know about him until he became the superstar he is today.


2. Kobe Bryant

What can we say about Kobe? One of the best players in history. Traded from the Hornets to the Lakers, Kobe didn’t have a very good rookie season in Los Angeles, since he only scored 7.6 ppg on 41.7 percent from the field, playing just 15.5 minutes per game. Well, Kobe made sure to become the best version of himself, as he took the lead of the Lakers and gave the team the prestige they lost at some point.

Kobe became an idol, not only in the U.S but overseas. He gave everything to the Lakers, and that’s something people will remember always.

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1. Steve Nash

Nash is one of the greatest point guards who has ever played in the NBA, as the Canadian displayed all the best of his game during the seasons he was part of the league. Although, Nash didn’t have a very great beginning, as he struggled in his rookie season to be the superstar he was years later. Steve averaged 3.3 points per game, 2.1 assists and shot 42.3 percent from the field. Something unbelievable if you watched the quality of the 2-time MVP.

After his awful first season, Nash demonstrated all his talent, leading Phoenix Suns to the playoffs in several seasons, creating one of the best teams of the century with Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa.

Nash retired from basketball without winning a ring, but there is no doubt about his marvelous talent on the court.

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  1. Pingback: Let Lonzo ball: A look at busts in the NBA | The McGill Tribune

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