Never, ever judge a player by his rookie season alone. There are some NBA stars from whom you never would have predicted greatness based on their inaugural years. We forget about them in the wake of the greatness that followed.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t have the rookie year Charlotte fans were hoping for. Thomas Robinson might seem like a failure right now. Kendall Marshall is looking like a massive disappointment.
Fear not! They may have great futures ahead of them still.
Some Hall of Famers had horrible rookie years. Others just seemed somewhat pedestrian. There are also current NBA All-Stars who were nothing to write home about in their first season.
I looked at some of them. Not all of these were horrendous, but none of them suggested the greatness that was in front of them after one season. Some were admittedly on the All-Rookie team, but let’s be honest—that’s not a very high bar.
To make this list, the players needed to average at least 18 minutes per game. They are ranked based on the difference between the number of win shares in their rookie season and their peak season. The year they were drafted is also provided at the top of each slide.
All stats and win shares were obtained from Basketball Reference.