Officially making it into the NBA can be a player’s defining memory throughout their entire career, as that first moment pulling on the jersey, stepping under the harsh lights onto the hardwood court and hearing your name called by the PA announcer can be a memory that lasts a lifetime, even if you have a Hall of Fame career.
Of course, being the first game in the big leagues, players are expected to have a few nerves and jitters while playing against grown men as a 19, 20 or 21-year-old, so breakout performances in game one are never expected. But sometimes, players can surprise us with huge numbers their first game out, which can set the tone for the rest of their career, or can be the best game in that player’s career, as you’ll see below.
Here are the top 10 best debut performances in NBA history.
10. Damian Lillard vs. Lakers – 23 Points and 11 Assists
9. Allen Iverson vs. Bucks – 30 Points and 6 Assists
8. David Robinson vs. Lakers – 23 Points and 17 Rebounds
7. Isiah Thomas vs. Bucks – 31 Points and 11 Assists
6. Brandon Jennings vs. 76ers – 17 Points, 9 Rebounds and 9 Assists
5. LeBron James vs. Kings – 25 Points, 6 Rebounds, 9 Assists and 4 Steals
4. Lamar Odom vs. Sonics – 30 Points, 12 Rebounds, 2 Steals and 2 Blocks
3. Oscar Robertson vs. Lakers – 21 Points, 12 Rebounds and 10 Assists
2. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Knicks – 43 Points and 28 Rebounds