They'll have their ups and downs — mostly downs — and make their coaches frustrated beyond belief while showing just enough to turn fans to all-in believers with visions of future centerpieces.
It wasn't overly surprising to hear Byron Scott's analysis of Julius Randle after his second exhibition game. The draft's seventh overall pick still has a ways to go.
"I thought he was lost, the first half especially," the Lakers coach said Thursday after a 120-105 loss to Golden State.
In Randle's six first-half minutes, he took five shots, missed four, committed three fouls, missed two free throws and, sure, had one assist.
He's finding out that his height — 6 feet 7¾ in bare feet — doesn't quite lead to the same initial success he enjoyed in college, where he could overpower opponents with his strength.
He's a tad undersized for an NBA power forward and doesn't yet have the skills of some at his position who can shoot from decent range.
But Charles Barkley was undersized. He found a way to succeed. Same for Wes Unseld.
And Zach Randolph is the same height as Randle. His career hasn't been bad at all.
Earlier this week, Scott poked at Randle's conditioning, saying it wasn't awful but could be better. And Randle will have to keep working on his outside touch and ballhandling skills.
It's a typical checklist for many big men when they enter the league.
Thursday's game was "just too fast for him," Scott said. "A 19-year-old, playing against a good team like that, that moves the ball the way they move and have [power forwards] that are as agile and athletic as he is, yeah, pretty much, I kind of expected that."
Kobe Bryant remembers his rookie season 18 long years ago. He seemed to sympathize with Randle. And had some advice too.
"He's still getting his feet wet right now," Bryant said. "He's kind of getting used to the NBA game and the speed of the game. The biggest thing for me is to see him trust his jump shot. I think at this stage of his career, it's important for him to really start working on expanding his game early. You know, facing up and shooting the ball."
Randle, perhaps showing some wisdom a month before his 20th birthday, agreed with Bryant.
"The biggest thing is I've got to stop hesitating so much," he said. "I've got to take what's given to me."
The Lakers' other draft choice, Jordan Clarkson, will sit out at least one week because of a moderate calf strain he sustained in the second quarter against the Warriors.
Clarkson hasn't been afraid to shoot, but the ball has been afraid to go into the basket. He's made five of 20 attempts in two games.