Players don't make it in the NBA for a variety of reasons. Some guys aren't athletic enough for the league; others don't have the work ethic. A few of the traits are easy to see, but most are difficult to determine until it is too late.
Here are 10 highly regarded players who could end up struggling to make a significant impact in the NBA.
Cousins is the darling of the statistical evaluations. One concern I have with variations of PER is that it rewards players with high rebounding and high field goal percentage numbers that play limited minutes. On film, Cousins is an advanced offensive player; his post moves are more developed than a lot of current NBA centers. However, his attitude could counteract those positives. Too often, Cousins showed signs of immaturity that made him an unlikable player to watch at Kentucky. It is one thing to get into it with the opposition; it's another to challenge your coach. Cousins disappointed a lot of NBA people by saying that concerns about his behavior were media-driven. Plus his work ethic, conditioning and defensive commitment are all question marks at this point.
Whiteside has all the measurements you would want, just under 7 feet tall in shoes with a ridiculous 7-foot-7 wingspan, but can he play? His shot selection is terrible. Whiteside settles for a lot of long 2-point attempts and plays as if he has no interest in passing to anyone once he has the ball. His block totals are impressive -- 5.4 per game -- but he floats on too many possessions. Whiteside will have to work much harder around screens to be an effective team defender in the NBA.
One of the most hyped players coming out of New York City, Stephenson has a lot of name recognition. But his first season at Cincinnati was inconsistent. Stephenson is in love with his dribble. He will try to break down his defender one-on-one, constantly ignoring his teammates. He is not effective off the ball and shows little interest when he isn't involved. Stephenson has loose shot mechanics and made just 22 percent of his 3-point attempts. He has used his strength to get by at lower levels, but I'm not sure he is athletic enough to play SG or SF in the NBA.
It is always a challenge evaluating a potential lottery pick that only played 13 minutes per game, but Orton sure seems like an inconsistent player. Granted, he is huge, moves well and is good around the basket, but when he gets caught in traffic with the ball, the possession doesn't end well. On film, I find myself wondering what he was thinking with some passes, and I rarely have an answer. Orton gets frustrated too easily and can take himself out of games. He is a good team defender, shows on screens, closes out on the perimeter and holds position well, but he goes for a lot of fakes and he needs to cut down on his fouls.
This is difficult, because there are so many things that I like about Hayward's game. He is tough, finds the ball, has a good handle, makes the right decision and looks like a great teammate. But who is he going to guard? Hayward will be matched up against the best big athletes in the world, and they will simply post him up until he gets stronger. Perhaps the biggest question is his shooting. He converted only 29 percent of his 3s last year after hitting 45 percent his freshman season. If he doesn't improve his long-range jumper, it will be hard to find a role for the potential top-10 pick.