NBA has been ruled over by the Twitter world and people’s expectations. We talk about the young ballers in this game and compare them to being the next *insert legendary NBA player’s name* before they step on the court. From rookies, to college players, to high-school players, to now even kids in intermediate school all get these unfair comparisons. We see Bronny and Zaire highlights everywhere now, it’s truly unreal the expectations we put on these kids.
The NBA is not easy for any player to obtain greatness. Even the greats who feel like they have an established name have to work just as hard to stay at that elite level. Ask LeBron James what his first years were like playing on a horrible Cleveland Cavaliers team. When evaluating an NBA player who are just getting their feet wet and transitioning to a faster, more athletic style of play there is a lot to take into account. Not many people take those things into account, it takes more than just hitting shots and being athletic.
For example, what situation are you drafted into? A lot of times, these great phenoms in college or out of high-school get drafted to an organization who have direction of sense. A great representation of this is Devin Booker, an excellent scorer at will is on the Phoenix Suns. By all accounts, they have been awful on making decisions either on drafting or signing free-agents. This will be the first time in Booker’s five-years where he has a team around him that isn’t awful. Finally have a useful point-guard, talented center and solid wing-players all around. However, the Suns in previous years have been by all accounts an atrociously run franchise.
How about when it comes to team-chemistry? That is a big portion on how your team plays. Kawhi Leonard came into Toronto and changed a situation that was perpetual playoff-losers into NBA champions. The young guys, like Pascal Siakam, get to benefit from that. Guys who are on teams with terrible chemistry like Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown and Dennis Smith Jr. Some of these guys had massive expectations coming into the season, and failed to live up to it. Tatum was supposed be an All-Star, then the Celtics happened. Brown didn’t have a clue what his role was, between ingratiating Gordon Hayward back on the team, Kyrie Irving having his issues and role-players having their problems. Same goes for Ingram, who just seemed to be there, no role. Basically trade-bait for LeBron’s next superstar, not having a chance to embrace a role or position of his own. Smith Jr. was supposed to be a part of an incredible back-court with Luka Doncic, and didn’t even get a full-season to do so. When you don’t set yourself up as an unstoppable All-Star, teams could give up on your development and trade you instantly.
What about sports talk-shows laying up these expectations and making their hot-takes. I understand that’s what they get paid to do, but that will put a massive affect on everybody’s outlook of him. The most recent example is Markelle Fultz, who had numerous, unfortunate injuries to start his career and Philadelphia media put the pressure on him. Whether it was filming his practices or hiding his medical records, that relayed to the media, and most notably a superstar of sorts. That superstar was Stephen A. Smith who went on record to say that Fultz is the biggest bust of all-time. His career is far from over and Mr. Smith went out of his way to shutdown a young kid’s career before it’s even over.
The 2019-2020 season is just about under-way and I can’t even tell you the amount of hype I’ve seen from Zion Williamson. Of course, most of it is deserved and he could be one of the few that really shows he is a superstar in the making in his rookie year to his third-year. But players like Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter, Jarrett Culver, etc will all have to try to live up to intense expectations. People are already trying to claim who these guys are. As I’m writing this, I heard Stan Van Gundy talk about Culver not being that guy who can take-over and be an All-Star type of guy. How can one even say that, without seeing him play with first-string guys throughout an 82 game season?
I am not going to sit here and be a hypocrite and say I have never done this either. I remember being someone who said Ingram wouldn’t last in the NBA. But then I realized why I felt that way, and he was projected to be the next Kevin Durant… just because of how he was built. He is a tall-skinny forward who can score. That was it. When he didn’t turn out to be Durant right away I wrote him off. When you see someone on Twitter judging a rookie and comparing him to an established legend, just do yourself a favor… block him. Report him. Don’t give that man attention. It gives him more incentive to make ridiculous claims. I wish I can say that something will change when it comes to judging guys who are either rookies to three-year players, but it’s more fun for people to compare someone of DeAndre Ayton’s stature to Michael Olowakandi.