These 15 Star Athletes Had Nightmare Rookie Seasons

First impressions can be deceiving. These 15 legends overcame truly terrible rookie seasons to have stellar pro careers.

Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba wasn't so intimidating during his first season in the NBA.

After being drafted 13th overall in the 1996 Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant started just six games his rookie year.

He did get considerable playing time off the bench, however, averaging 15.5 minutes per game.

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The Black Mamba wasn't so intimidating during his first season in the NBA.

After being drafted 13th overall in the 1996 Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant started just six games his rookie year.

He did get considerable playing time off the bench, however, averaging 15.5 minutes per game.

Yet he was largely inconsistent in those opportunities, shooting 41.7% from the field and averaging more turnovers than assists.

In nine postseason games that season, Kobe, who would go on to be known for his killer instinct in big moments, shot 38.2% from the field.

Bryant believed he should've been playing more despite his pedestrian production, so he worked hard to earn more minutes.

"For me, it was, 'OK, why am I not playing? What can I do differently?' I have to be better," Bryant told Nick Saban in a conversation earlier this year. "Alright, then that's not good enough, I have be twice as good. For me, it was a challenge of getting to a place where it's undeniable. You have to play me—because I'm that good, I'm that efficient, I'm strong at both ends of the floor. So it actually helped me. Because I was coming off the bench the first two years. So I was like, I have to figure this out, I have to. So I used it as a source of motivation, (rather than) complain and whine about it."

18 All-Star selections and five NBA Championships later, Bryant is now a basketball legend.

Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

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