The Worst Rookies of the 2019-2020 NBA Season


Coming into this year’s past draft, there was a lot of hype surrounding the top few picks of the draft. Big names like Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett all created buzz around the incoming rookies. Some of this year’s rookies had success, and some did not. Of those that did not see the expected success, who were some of the worst rookies of this past season?

R.J. Barrett


The third pick of the 2019 draft, R.J. Barrett, had some shining moments over the past season as a member of the New York Knicks. Overall though, it was worse than expected for the Duke product. Barrett averaged 14.3 points per game with five rebounds and two assists. On paper, that stat line looks average to above average for a rookie. However, when you take a look at his slash line along with shots attempted per game, that is where the disappointing numbers stand out.

A free throw percentage of only 61.4 percent on 4.5 attempts per game is painfully below average for a slashing wing. Add in his 40.2 percent field goal percentage on 13 shots per game, and Barrett’s season was far from what was expected of him as a top-three pick in the draft.

Jarrett Culver


Defensively, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Jarrett Culver showed he is more than capable of matching up against NBA talent. Offensively, however, the Texas Tech product showed some glaring holes in his game.

Only averaging 9.2 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting from the field, Culver was very inefficient from the field. Another glaring problem, much like Barrett, is his free throw percentage. The 21-year-old only shot 46.2 percent from the charity stripe on just about two attempts per game. Not only is the shooting guard struggling to get to the line, but when he is there, he cannot capitalize.

As the sixth pick in the draft, the Wolves are banking on Culver to take a big leap forward and be a key piece in their system alongside the likes of D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. But for this season, Culver disappointed as a top-ten pick in the draft.

Jordan Poole

00 My king of the hill

Some may have seen Jordan Poole, a shooting guard out of Michigan, falling to the 28th pick in the draft as a steal for the Golden State Warriors. Looking at his numbers this year though, he played below expectations. Averaging 8.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game is far from eye-popping, and when you combine that with his 33.3 percent shooting from the field, Poole proved to be one of the worst rookies out of this class.


Players like Romeo Langford, Bruno Fernando, and Sekou Doumbouya all showed promise, but that trio also underperformed in their rookie years. Poole, Barrett, and Culver all showed promise as well, but the inefficiency of these six rookies links them together.

Every single one of these players shot less than 70 percent from the free-throw line except Jordan Poole, and he shot 33.3 percent from the field. What truly sets Barrett, Culver, and Poole apart from those listed in the conclusion is the amount of time they play and the volume of shots they took. Barrett averaged 13 shots per game while Culver and Poole averaged around nine attempts per game. Looking at the efficiency problems, those three should cut down and focus on taking and making better shots.

Biggest Worry

R.J. Barrett is the only rookie listed here who I am personally worried about. He does not have one defining factor for me. The Duke product came in as one of the “cannot miss” top-three picks. As a slasher and scoring wing, many thought he would be a huge first step for the Knicks rebuild.

But as I have mentioned before, he struggles to capitalize on opportunities at the line as a slasher. As a scorer, he is inefficient on double-digit shot attempts per game. Defensively, Barrett was average. Nothing stood out to me as a talent through watching him in New York this year.

R.J. Barrett has always dubbed himself the top option wherever he played. For a player that did not average great numbers, he played like he was the Knicks’ superstar while on the court. That’s another reason I am worried.

I hope I am wrong. I hope all six of the players listed in this article grow into average to above-average role players. However, the efficiency problem of each is what worries me. You cannot teach feel around the rim. You can work at it, but it is not something that just comes naturally. The same applies to the free-throw line.

Each player has a chance to become the average to above-average role player I had mentioned. It is going to take some work and most importantly, the players knowing their role.


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