Over the course of history, we’ve seen some youngsters take the league for assault right of the gate, and sometimes nobody ever saw them coming as most of the headlines were reserved for most hyped prospects.
This season, the Rookie of the Year award could go anyway, and that’s one of the most exciting things about this campaign already, as any choice from Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum or Kyle Kuzma would be pretty fair.
Nonetheless, the NBA has seen some players made it so clear and loud that they’re not only the Rookie of the Year but also an MVP caliber player, that their records have been left in history as some seasons to look up to at the end of their career.s
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 rookie seasons ever, something quite impressive considering most of this guys would still far behind from his prime and would eventually become even more dominant players.
Tim Duncan: 21.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.7 APG
David Robinson: 24.3 PPG, 12.0 APG, 3.9 BPG
Larry Bird: 21.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 4.5 APG
10. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal was a monster out of the gate and it was pretty clear that he was just going to outgrow the Orlando Magic anytime soon. Coming out of LSU, Shaq continued his dominance in both ends of the court and even posted career highs during his very first NBA Campaign, averaging over 23 points, almost 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per contest.
9. Magic Johnson
Even though the Rookie of the Year award would end in the hands of his lifelong rival Larry Bird, it would be Magic the one to take home the NBA Championship during his first season. Magic made his debut filling in for injured All-Star Kareem-Abdul Jabbar at center and immediately made a huge impact, winning the Finals MVP after a 42 point, 15 rebound performance. Over the season, he averaged 18 points, 7.7 boards and 7.3 assists per game.
8. Wes Unseld
Wes Unseld was so sick during his first season with the Baltimore Bullets, that he won not only the Rookie of the Year award but also the Most Valuable Player accolade over already established basketball superstars. Averaging almost 14 points and the absurd number of 18 boards per contest during his first campaign, he outplays every other big man in the league since day one.
7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Before being known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a young Lew Alcindor would show his greatness out of the gate for the Milwaukee Bucks after already dominating the NCAA with the UCLA Bruins. The Bucks had landed a gem in the center and he proved it right away with incredible averages of 28.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, single-handedly turning around the record of a lousy and mediocre franchise from 27-55 to 56-26.
6. Michael Jordan
The greatest basketball player in NBA history obviously had to make our list, as His Royal Airness was even named as an All-Star starter during his first season with his averages of 28.2 points, 6.5. rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game on 51% from the floor, proving already that he was one of the greatest talents basketball will ever see. Still, it took him a while to lead the Bulls to the ring, but he was money from the very first day anyway.
5. Elvin Hayes
Known as one of the all-time greats, Elvin Hayes was one of the most dominant big men in basketball history, and even though most of the attention was going towards Unseld’s way, the Big E definitely made a statement during his rookie season with the San Diego Rockets. Through that span, he posted averages of 28.4 points and 17.4 rebounds per game.
4. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was considered to be the best small forward in the history of the game despite not being able to lead the Minneapolis Lakers to the Championship during his career. Still, averaging almost 25 points to go along with 15 rebounds per game during his rookie season granted him the 1958-59 Rookie of the Year honors.
3. Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson is one of the most skilled, dominant and versatile players this game has ever seen and he was the first ever to average a triple-double throughout a full campaign despite playing the point guard position. Still, despite that milestone coming in his 2nd year in the league, he was pretty close of doing it the prior year during his rookie season, averaging 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game.
2. Walt Bellamy
Walt Bellamy would go on to demolish every single defender that dared to contain him during his first season, posting season averages of 31.6 points and 19 rebounds per game to go along with 2.7 assists, easily winning the 1961-62 Rookie of the Year award, proving that he was well worthy of that 1st overall pick the Chicago Packers spent in him.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
To be fair, Wilt Chamberlain had already played one pro season with the Harlem Globetrotters before heading to the Philadelphia Warriors. Still, regardless of it was his first or second professional seasons, his averages of 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game during his rookie year will never be topped. On a side note, that 27 boards per game average are only surpassed by the 27.2 rebounds he averaged the upcoming campaign.