The Top 25 Rookie Seasons in NBA History
Sometimes, NBA rookies play more like seasoned veterans than inexperienced first-year guys.
When Bill Russell entered the league in 1956, he proved to be a man among boys as he grabbed 19.6 rebounds per game and led the Boston Celtics to their first ever world championship.
Throughout the history of the NBA, several rookies have put up brilliant numbers. In fact, some have even averaged over 30 points per game in their debut seasons.
Here is a list of the top 25 rookies of all time.
25. Damon Stoudamire (1995-96)
The Toronto Raptors' first-ever draft pick, Damon Stoudamire averaged 19 points per game and ranked fourth in the league with 9.3 assists per game.
"Mighty Mouse" was named Rookie of the Year and still holds the all-time rookie record for most three-pointers made in a season with 133.
24. Mark Jackson (1987-88)
Jackson slipped all the way down to the 18th pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, where he was picked up by his hometown New York Knicks.
Finishing second in the league in assists behind Utah's John Stockton with 868, he took home the 1988 Rookie of the Year Award.
23. Terry Cummings (1982-83)
Cummings won the 1983 NBA Rookie of the Year Award as he averaged 23.7 points and 10.4 rebounds for the San Diego Clippers.
22. Sidney Wicks (1971-72)
Wicks averaged 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and won the 1972 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
21. Alonzo Mourning (1992-93)
Mourning averaged 21 points, 10.3 rebounds, and finished fourth in the league with 3.5 blocks per game as he helped lead an exciting, young Charlotte Hornets team to their first ever postseason appearance.
His game-winning bucket in Game 4 eliminated the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1993 NBA Playoffs.
20. Bob Pettit (1954-55)
Petitt averaged 20.4 points and 13.8 rebounds per game and was named the 1955 Rookie of the Year as a member of the Milwaukee Hawks.
19. Ralph Sampson (1983-84)
Selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, Sampson averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
The 7'4" center was named to the All-Star Team and won the 1984 Rookie of the Year Award.
18. Jerry Lucas (1963-64)
Averaging 17.7 points and 17.4 rebounds per game, Lucas won the 1964 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
17. Tim Duncan (1997-98)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
He was named NBA Rookie of the Year and won the Rookie of the Month Award every month of the season.
16. Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-85)
Olajuwon averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.68 blocks per game and finished second in voting for the 1985 Rookie of the Year Award behind Chicago's Michael Jordan.
15. LeBron James (2003-04)
Living up to all the hype, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game and was named the 2004 Rookie of the Year.
LeBron became just the third rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
14. Rick Barry (1965-66)
Barry scored 25.7 points per game which was fourth best in the league. In addition, he was named to the All-Star Team, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and was selected to the All-NBA First Team.
13. Allen Iverson (1996-97)
Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 1 overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, Iverson averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
The former Georgetown star was named Rookie of the Year, won the MVP of the Rookie Game, and surpassed Wilt Chamberlain's rookie record of scoring at least 40 points in four consecutive games.
12. Shaquille O'Neal (1992-93)
O'Neal instantly emerged as a force in the middle for the Orlando Magic. The No.1 overall pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, Shaq averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game.
In addition, he won the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and became the first rookie since Michael Jordan in 1985 to start in the All-Star Game.
11. David Robinson (1989-90)
Although he was drafted by San Antonio in 1987, Robinson did not join the Spurs until the 1989-90 season because of his commitment to the Navy.
In his debut season, he averaged 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game. And Robinson' s presence helped the Spurs win 35 more games than the year before.
10. Magic Johnson (1979-80)
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, Johnson quickly became one of the best point guards in the league. The former Michigan State star averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game.
Filling in for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson posted 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals as the Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers for the title. Magic was named Finals MVP.
9. Larry Bird (1979-80)
Bird averaged 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, was named to the All-Star Team and beat out Magic Johnson for the Rookie of the Year Award.
The Boston Celtics won 32 more games than the season before Bird arrived.
8. Michael Jordan (1984-85)
Jordan ranked fourth in the league in scoring average with 28.2 per game and was voted by the fans to start in the All-Star Game. He also won the Rookie of the Year award edging out Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon.
7. Wes Unseld (1968-69)
Unseld became just the second player in history to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same season. He averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds per game.
6. Elvin Hayes (1968-69)
Hayes led the league with 28.4 points per game and averaged 17.1 rebounds per contest. And he is the last rookie to lead the league in scoring.
5. Elgin Baylor (1958-59)
After being selected by the Minneapolis Lakers with the No.1 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft, Baylor averaged 24.9 points and 15 rebounds per game in his debut season.
The year before Baylor had arrived, the Lakers finished in last place. However, with Baylor in the lineup, the Lakers reached the NBA Finals where they were swept by the Boston Celtics.
4. Walt Bellamy (1961-62)
Playing his rookie year with the Chicago Packers, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points and 19 rebounds per game. He also led the league in field goal percentage.
3. Lew Alcindor (1969-70)
Now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alcindor ranked second in the league with 28.8 points per game and third in rebounding with 14.5 per game.
Alcindor helped the Milwaukee Bucks win 29 more games than the previous year and of course, he earned the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award.
2. Oscar Robertson (1960-61)
The "Big O" put together an amazing rookie season as he nearly averaged a triple-double with 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and a league-leading 9.7 assists per game.
Robertson won the Rookie of the Year Award and was named MVP of the 1961 All-Star game in which he recorded 23 points, 14 assists, and 9 rebounds.
1. Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60)
Chamberlain became the first player in NBA history to win both the MVP and the Rookie of the Year Award in the same season.
The former Kansas star led the league in both scoring with 37.6 per game and rebounding with 27 per game.