Few 2014 First-Rounders Seeing Heavy Minutes

The stock of the 2014 draft class has been on a steady decline for the past year. It was billed before the beginning of the 2013/14 college season as a landmark group of prospects capable of changing the game, but thanks to an array of underwhelming performances, the draft soon became regarded as well-stocked but bereft of franchise-changing players. The broken foot that Joel Embiid suffered just weeks before the draft, when he was the leading candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, helped take the class down another notch. Now, a quarter of the way into the season, the performances that this year’s first-round picks have delivered suggest that the draft class was below average, at best.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time to go before any reasonable final judgments can be made on the field, which has the potential to live up to at least some of the expectations attached to it. Nonetheless, the minutes that each first-rounder is seeing paint a grim picture so far. Only a third of the 30 first-round picks are seeing at least 15 minutes per game, and two of those 10 have missed significant time with injuries. The rookie seeing the next most minutes per night, Julius Randle, posted that total in just one game, the contest in which he broke his leg and was lost for the rest of the season. Six first-rounders have yet to make their NBA debuts, including Embiid, two overseas players, and Josh Huestis, who’s on a D-League contract. Injuries have also helped to forestall the debuts of Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary, though both have gone on D-League assignment this year.

Here’s a look at how much each first-round pick is playing, ranked by minutes per game, with their respective draft positions in parentheses and additional notes where appropriate:

More than 20 minutes per game

Between 15-20 minutes per game

Between 10-15 minutes per game

Between 5-10 minutes per game

  • Tyler Ennis, Suns (No. 18) — 8.8
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Nuggets (No. 16) — 8.6
  • Noah Vonleh, Hornets (No. 9) — 8.0: Hampered by preseason hernia surgery. Has played only three games.

Fewer than 5 minutes per game

  • C.J. Wilcox, Clippers (No. 28) — 4.5: Has played only two games.
  • Clint Capela, Rockets (No. 25) — 3.7: Hampered by preseason groin injury. Has played only three games, but has played extensively in D-League.
  • James Young, Celtics (No. 17) — 3.6: Has played extensively in D-League.

Haven’t played NBA games

  • Joel Embiid, Sixers (No. 3) — 0: Injured, has yet to make debut.
  • Dario Saric, Sixers (No. 12) — 0: Playing overseas.
  • Adreian Payne, Hawks (No. 15) — 0: Hampered by plantar fasciitis. Has played extensively in D-League.
  • Mitch McGary, Thunder (No. 21) — 0: Hampered by broken foot suffered in preseason. Has played in D-League.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, Suns (No. 27) — 0: Playing overseas.
  • Josh Huestis, Thunder (No. 29) — 0: Playing in D-League on D-League contract.
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