The Greatest Rookie Seasons in NBA History

Simmons Mitchell 560x315Tonight, the NBA will announce the 2018 Rookie of the Year award winner and the decision could become one of the toughest since 1993 when Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning fought right down to the wire for the award.

This year, the committee will have to decide between Philly’s former No.1 overall draft pick, Ben Simmons, Utah’s surprising young star, Donovan Mitchell, or the Celtics future superstar small forward, Jayson Tatum. Sadly, because of the season’s that Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell had this past year, Jayson Tatum is the odd man out and will end up finishing third, far behind the real battle for the title of Rookie of the Year.

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Donovan Mitchell’s rookie season was impressive because he picked up the Utah Jazz, put them over his shoulder, and carried them into the playoffs. He did more than anyone even knew he was capable of doing and he did it while becoming one of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA. But did he do enough to win the support of the voters?

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Or was Ben Simmons meteoric rise to the top of the NBA too impressive to pass on? Although he is not a great shooter, Ben Simmons still managed to average 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Those numbers are impressive for a veteran, let alone a rookie (Oscar Robertson is the only rookie in NBA history to average more points, rebounds, and assists than Ben Simmons).

Their battle to become the NBA’s next Rookie of the Year was so much fun to watch this season that we just had to do the research and find some of the other epic rookie campaigns from some of the biggest players in NBA history. As we began to uncover some amazing rookie seasons, we also found out that the NBA did not keep track of steals or blocks until the 1973-74 season. Some of the older players on the list could have incredible averages in those two categories but we will never know. Please enjoy the greatest 35 rookie seasons in NBA history.

35) Bill Cartwright, New York Knicks

  • Year: 1980
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 54.7 FG%, 21.7 Pts, 8.9 Reb, 2.0 Ast, 1.2 Blk

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34) Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 2011
  • Position: Power Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 50.6 FG%, 22.5 Pts, 12.1 Reb, 3.8 Ast, 0.8 Stl

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33) Alonzo Mourning, Charlotte Hornets

  • Year: 1993
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 78 Games, 51.1 FG%, 21.0 Pts, 10.3 Reb, 3.5 Blk

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32) Bob Pettit, Milwaukee Hawks

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1955
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 72 Games, 20.4 Pts, 13.8 Reb, 3.2 Ast

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31) Maurice Stokes, Rochester Royals

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1956
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 67 Games, 16.8 Pts, 16.3 Reb, 4.9 Ast

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30) Grant Hill, Detroit Pistons

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1995
  • Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 70 Games, 19.9 Pts, 6.4 Reb, 5.0 Ast, 1.8 Stl, 0.9 Blk

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29) Willis Reed, New York Knicks

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1965
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 80 Games, 19.5 Pts, 14.7 Reb, 1.7 Ast

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28) George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers

  • Year: 1949
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 60 Games, 28.3 Pts, 3.6 Ast

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27) Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota T’Wolves

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 2016
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 54.2 FG%, 18.3 Pts, 10.5 Reb, 2.0 Ast, 1.7 Blk

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26) Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

  • Year: 2018
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 81 Games, 54.5 FG%, 15.8 Pts, 8.1 Reb, 8.2 Ast, 1.7 Stl, 0.9 Blk

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25) Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1966
  • Position: Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 80 Games, 25.7 Pts, 10.6 Reb, 2.2 Ast

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24) Damon Stoudamire, Toronto Raptors

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1996
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 70 Games, 19.0 Pts, 9.3 Ast, 4.0 Reb, 1.4 Stl

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23) Larry Johnson, Charlotte Hornets

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1992
  • Position: Power Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 19.2 Pts, 11.0 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 1.0 Stl

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22) Marques Johnson, Milwaukee Bucks

  • Year: 1978
  • Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 80 Games, 52.2 FG%, 19.5 Pts, 10.6 Reb, 2.4 Ast, 1.3 Blk, 1.2 Stl

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21) Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1984
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 52.3 FG%, 21.0 Pts, 11.1 Reb, 2.4 Blk, 2.0 Ast

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20) Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1997
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 76 Games, 23.5 Pts, 7.5 Ast, 4.1 Reb, 2.1 Stl

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19) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1998
  • Position: Power Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 54.9 FG%, 21.1 Pts, 11.9 Reb, 2.7 Ast, 2.5 Blk

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18) Walter Davis, Phoenix Suns

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1978
  • Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 81 Games, 52.6 FG%, 24.2 Pts, 6.0 Reb, 3.4 Ast, 1.4 Stl

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17) Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

  • Year: 1980
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 77 Games, 53.0 FG%, 18.0 Pts, 7.7 Reb, 7.3 Ast, 2.4 Stl

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16) Chris Webber, Golden State Warriors

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1994
  • Position: Power Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 76 Games, 55.2 FG%, 17.5 Pts, 9.1 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 2.2 Blk, 1.2 Stl

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15) Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati Royals

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1964
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 79 Games, 52.7 FG%, 17.7 Pts, 17.4 Reb, 2.6 Ast

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14) Terry Cummings, San Diego Clippers

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1983
  • Position: Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 70 Games, 52.3 FG%, 23.7 Pts, 10.6 Reb, 2.5 Ast, 1.8 Stl, 0.9 Blk

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13) Shaquille O’Neal, Orlando Magic

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1993
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 81 Games, 56.2 FG%, 23.4 Pts, 13.9 Reb, 3.5 Blk, 1.9 Ast

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12) Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

  • Year: 1985
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 53.8 FG%, 20.6 Pts, 11.9 Reb, 2.7 Blk, 1.4 Ast, 1.2 Stl

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11) Mark Jackson, New York Knicks

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1988
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 13.6 Pts, 10.6 Ast (Rookie Record), 4.8 Reb, 2.5 Stl

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10) Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis Lakers

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1959
  • Position: Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 70 Games, 24.9 Pts, 15.0 Reb, 4.1 Ast

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9) Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1980
  • Position: Small Forward
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 21.3 Pts, 10.4 Reb, 4.5 Ast, 1.7 Stl, 0.6 Blk

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8) Wes Unseld, Baltimore Bullets

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1969
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 13.8 Pts, 18.2 Reb, 2.6 Ast

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7) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1970
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 51.8 FG%, 28.8 Pts, 14.5 Reb, 4.1 Ast

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6) David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1990
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 53.1 FG%, 24.3 Pts, 12.0 Reb, 3.9 Blk, 1.7 Stl

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5) Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1961
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 71 Games, 30.5 Pts, 10.1 Reb, 9.7 Ast

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4) Elvin Hayes, San Diego Rockets

  • Year: 1969
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 28.4 Pts, 17.1 Reb, 1.4 Ast

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3) Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1985
  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 82 Games, 51.5 FG%, 28.2 Pts, 6.5 Reb, 5.9 Ast, 2.4 Stl

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2) Walt Bellamy, Chicago Packers

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1962
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 79 Games, 51.9 FG%, 31.6 Pts, 19.0 Reb, 2.7 Ast

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1) Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Year: 1960
  • Position: Center
  • Rookie Year Highlights: 72 Games, 46.1 FG%, 37.6 Pts (Rookie Record), 27.0 Reb (Rookie Record), 2.3 Ast

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