Year after year we have seen very talented young men make it to the NBA. Some of them look ready even years before being drafted. You can tell that others will need to go through an adjustment period but that are talented enough to make it, while others are still pretty raw.
Nobody expects rookies to have a huge impact right away, not even first overall picks. I mean, you obviously want to see them play, develop, grow through their mistakes and get more comfortable as the season goes by. Still, some of them take the league by assault right from the get-go.
But even among those NBA-ready teenagers that turn a lot of heads on their rookie years, just 5 of them have been able to average at least 20 points per game while being a teenager. Today, we’re going to let you know about them and their rookie seasons:
5. Kevin Durant – 20.3 PPG
Kevin Durant was the final great Draft pick in Seattle Supersonics history. The team and the city were going through a lot during his rookie season, so he made sure to put on a show every night out there that year and give them a proper farewell. He took the team on his shoulders despite being 19 years old.
Durant entered the league as a shooting guard, played 80 games, averaged 34.1 minutes per game; and knocked down 43% of his shots. Surprisingly, he wasn’t much of a threat from beyond the arc, as he shot just 28% from three (0.7 of 2.6 attempts per game). He worked on his craft and is now a career 38% shooter from three.
4. Luka Doncic – 20.9 PPG
Luka Doncic made it to the league as one of the most experienced rookies ever from his time in Europe. He was already the Euroleague’s youngest MVP ever but nobody ever thought he would be that ready to dominate in the NBA. He proved his doubters wrong.
Doncic entered the league as a savvy 19-year old. He embraced a leadership role in the Dallas Mavericks and soaked in as much as he could from Dirk Nowitzki. Now, he’s one of the best players in the world and a prime candidate to win the MVP or Scoring title two years from now.
3. LeBron James – 20.9 PPG
LeBron James was the most hyped high school player in basketball history in 2003. His high school games had more people in attendance than some Ivy League college games and it was pretty clear that he was poised to be the league’s next superstar.
James made it to the league straight out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high as the first overall pick of the Draft and needless to say, he didn’t disappoint. The King took the Rookie of the Year honors by averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game on 41% shooting.
2. Carmelo Anthony – 21.0 PPG
Carmelo Anthony was the best player in college basketball in 2003 and by a long stretch. He led Syracuse University to the national title and he had a legit case at challenging LeBron James for the first overall pick of the Draft. Still, he ended up slipping to the third spot and going to the Denver Nuggets.
Rookie Carmelo was a beast. He was strong, fast, and athletic. His body and mind were ready for the NBA but the NBA wasn’t ready for him. He averaged 21 points per game on 42/32/77 shooting and made a case for being Rookie of the Year.
1. Zion Williamson 21.6 PPG
Zion Williamson was the most hyped and scouted high school player we’ve seen since LeBron James. His tape went viral when he was a sophomore and the Zion-mania just got bigger when he took his talents to Duke University. Still, there were plenty of doubts regarding his ability to dominate in the NBA.
Well, it’s pretty safe to say that Zion killed that narrative right away. It only took him 19 games to prove that he was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent with a legit shot at being the best player in the world just a couple of years from now. He made history by becoming the highest-scoring teenager the NBA has ever seen at 23.6 points per game.