Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series. The second may be found here.
Quite exciting to watch, eh? We always love to see if they were worth their draft pick, if they can transfer their talent from college or overseas to the pros.
This year's draft class appears to be very deep, and very interesting. More so than before, a lot of rookies are making bigger impacts on teams. Because of this, the race has thickened considerably, with Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Grizzlies star OJ Mayo leading the way.
But instead of merely picking out my favourite or ranking this seasons prospectives, I've decided to look a bit more at the award itself. The rookie of the year trophy—the Eddie Gottlieb trophy named after the 1946-47 NBA Championship winning Philadelphia Warriors team.
How are the previous winners of the award faring? Let us look back at this decade's Rookie of the Year winners, and see how they are doing in the NBA now.
In the first part, we'll be looking at the first four trophies handed out since 2000. Make sure to come back for the second half of the article in a few days.
1999-2000: Elton Brand and Steve Francis (Co-Winners)
The last co-award that was given out by the NBA was back at the turn of the century, and was shared by the Bulls Elton Brand and the Rockets Steve Francis.
Elton was the last first overall pick of the 90's, and adjusted incredibly quickly to the NBA after a great career at Duke. He was immediately heralded as the saviour of the new-look Bulls after Michael Jordan's departure. He played in 81 games that year while averaging literally 20 and 10, something some All-Stars still can't do (I'm looking your way Amare).
Steve Francis was an All-American at the University of Maryland, and was subsequently picked second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies.
Francis famously declared he did not want to play for the Grizzlies, and after much controversy was traded to the Houston Rockets that same summer in the largest deal in NBA history. Francis went on to average 18 points along with five rebounds and six assists per game.
Where Are They Now?
Elton was one of the bigger stories of the past summer, signing a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia 76ers after being one of the all-time great Clippers for most of the decade. Brand is still All-Star caliber, but is struggling with his new team.
Though being one of the more durable players of the generation, Brand missed last season with an Achilles tendon injury, and has just dislocated his shoulder, making him unavailable for another month.
Since winning the ROY Brand has been named an All-Star twice (02,06) and made the All-NBA Second Team (06).
Francis, after unsuccessful stints in Orlando and New York (though they were filled with Youtube highlights), re-signed with the Houston Rockets at the beginning of last season. He only managed to play in 10 games however before having season ending surgery due to a quadriceps injury and hasn't played yet this season.
Steve earned the name 'Franchise' during his first stint with Houston and was a fan favourite. While in Orlando and New York he lost his winning attitude and lost focus, he appears to have regained that focus, getting in shape this past summer and preparing well for training camp, but is still a shell of the player he once was.
Since winning the ROY Francis was named a three-time All-Star, including a starting berth.
2000-2001: Mike Miller
Mike Miller was a star at the University of Florida, going to the Championship game as a sophomore and hitting some clutch shots in that tournament. This led to him being picked fifth by the Orlando Magic. He was the only rookie to play in all 82 games that year, while averaging 12 points a game and hitting 40 percent of his three-pointers.
Where Is He Now?
After playing the majority of his career with the Grizzlies, Miller was traded to the Timberwolves as part of a deal including current rookies Kevin Love and OJ Mayo.
Since winning the ROY Miller won the Sixth Man of the Year award back in 2006.
2001-2002: Pau Gasol
Pau had been incredibly successful in his home country of Spain, and had recently won the Spanish National Cup, being named MVP of the game. He was selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks, who immediately traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol played in all 82 games of his first season, while averaging 17.6 ppg, two blocks a game, nine rebounds, and shooting over 50 percent.
Where Is He Now?
Pau is now playing for the Lakers after being the Grizzlies franchise player for most of his career. His is a huge part of the Lakers team and was a huge piece in their run to the Finals last year, being the piece that finally put them into the elite conversation.
Since winning the ROY, Pau has enjoyed numerous successes, mainly in the international competitions. In the European Championships he won a silver medal in 2003 and 2007 (missing out on gold because of an incredible shot by Russia's J.R Holden).
In 2006, Gasol was named an NBA All-Star and also enjoyed perhaps his biggest success of his Spanish team winning the World Championships and being named the MVP of the tournament. Spain is still one of the best teams in the world, having a fantastic Olympic tournament this year, and earning silver after challenging the USA in the title game.
2002-2003: Amar'e Stoudemire
At the time of the draft, much hype was given to Yao Ming and Jay Williams. But Amar'e was also one of the keys to the draft due to his unusual background. Amar'e was coming straight out of high school and had only been playing organized basketball since the age of 14.
Still he had been tremendous during high school and was selected ninth overall by the Phoenix Suns. Amar'e played in all 82 games, and averaged 13.5 points per game along with eight rebounds a game.
Where Is He Now?
Amar'e is still with his Phoenix Suns and has become one of the true stars of the game, being one of the premier players at his position. He is a major piece of the Suns team and led the league in scoring at one point this season. He completed possibly the greatest comeback from injury in the NBA, after missing the entire 2006 season, something many people have now forgotten about.
Since winning the ROY, Amar'e has been a three-time all star and been named to the All-NBA first and second teams and has been a beast in both the regular season and playoffs, averaging over 26 points a game in 2005.
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