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10 Youngest NBA Players To Win The MVP Award: Derrick Rose Was Only 22 Years Old When He Broke This Record

10 Youngest NBA Players To Win The MVP Award: Derrick Rose Was Only 22 Years Old When He Broke This Record

Capturing the regular-season MVP award has to be one of the greatest achievements for any player in NBA history. Over an 82-game season, being the most valuable member of a team and also the best overall player in the world requires a ton of off-season preparation, stats to back up the play, and consistent impact over an entire season’s worth of NBA basketball. While other individual accolades such as the Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, or Defensive Player of the Year are exceptional awards, the MVP award is simply the most prestigious individual accolade one can get.

But which players managed to win the regular-season MVP awards at very young ages? Thanks to the availability of data in the modern era, we have collected the youngest NBA players who ever won the MVP award. It is not easy for a player without plenty of experience to manage to be the best player over an 82-game season, which is why this list should be honored and respected. Without further ado, here is the list of the 10 youngest NBA players who manage to win the MVP award. While there are some very big names, including All-Stars and Hall of Famers, on this list, there are also some names that might appear further up the list than previously expected.


10. Wilt Chamberlain - 24 Years Old, 158 Days

1959-60 MVP Stats: 37.6 PPG, 27.0 RPG, 2.3 APG

The 1959-1960 season was the year of Wilt Chamberlain, one of the most dominant players of all time. The superstar center was only a rookie but managed to win the MVP award along with the Rookie of the Year award. We have not seen a player as dominant as Wilt so early because he led the NBA in PPG, RPG, and win shares. Obviously, Chamberlain was on his way to becoming the most physically dominant player of all time.

The rookie season was the first of 7 straight seasons where Wilt led the NBA in PPG and led the Philadelphia Warriors to the second-best record in the NBA behind the Boston Celtics led by Bill Russell. In the postseason, Chamberlain and the Warriors made it to the Eastern Divison Finals but could not make it to the NBA Finals to face Russell and the Celtics. Nonetheless, a 24-year-old Wilt Chamberlain accomplished a host of incredible achievements in only his rookie season.


9. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 24 Years, 131 Days Old

2018-19 MVP Stats: 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 BPG

The future Hall of Fame Milwaukee Bucks forward was at his best in the 2019 season, clearly getting to an elite level in terms of efficiency and numbers at the power forward position. Giannis and the Bucks found themselves with the best record in the NBA at the end of the year, with a 60-22 record. Giannis was the best player on the best team, so it was expected that he would end up with MVP honors at the end of the year.

Amazingly, Giannis would win the MVP award the following year along with the Defensive Player of the Year award. The superstar power forward blossomed into arguably the best player in the world in 2019 by posting a monster double-double while also staking his claim as one of the best defensive players in the world. Antetokounmpo was only 24 years old but was doing everything on the floor, including showing leadership and impacting the game in multiple facets, including scoring, defense, rebounding, and playmaking.


8. LeBron James - 24 Years, 113 Days Old

2008-09 MVP Stats: 28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG

LeBron James capped off an excellent season in 2009 by competing in 81 games and averaged excellent numbers across the board. The King was the undisputed leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers side that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Bolstered by the presence of teammates including Mo Williams, Delonte West, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, James was able to provide his triple-double ability as freely as possible.

The King put up his third-highest scoring average at the time, and it was widely expected that James and the Cavaliers were on the way to facing Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. That never quite happened, as the Cavaliers fell to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals in 6 games. But due to being the best player on the best team in 2009, James won the MVP award when he was only 24 years old.


7. Bill Russell - 24 Years, 34 Days

1957-58 MVP Stats: 16.6 PPG, 22.7 RPG, 2.9 APG

A 5-time MVP winner, the late and great Bill Russell averaged a ridiculous double-double during the 1958 season at only 24 years old. Despite being a very young man, Russell was already one of the best leaders in the NBA and proved it by dominating both ends of the court. The superstar center was not only a scoring presence in the paint but a key defensive player who helped the Boston Celtics finish with the best record in the NBA.

The Celtics went 49-23 in the NBA, and Russell was the best player on the team who finished 1st in RPG, 4th in PPG, 2nd in APG, and 1st in MPG. The superstar center was only in his second season but made his first All-Star Team and captured the regular-season MVP award. We knew Russell was going to end up being a special player in due time, and he certainly achieved that because he finished his career with a whopping 11 NBA championships.


6. Moses Malone - 24 Years Old, 22 Days

1978-79 MVP Stats: 24.8 PPG, 17.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG

While Hakeem Olajuwon was the greatest player to ever play for the Houston Rockets, Moses Malone has to be ranked second. The legendary center made his reputation as a ferocious offensive rebounder with the team, averaging 6.5 offensive rebounds per game during his stint. A massive player with a limitless motor, Malone won the 1979 MVP award at only 23 years old. Playing all 82 games at 41.3 MPG, Malone was simply a machine during the season.

Moses led the NBA in RPG for the first time in his career and also ran away with MVP honors after leading the Houston Rockets to the 4th best seed in the conference, although they would lose in the first round of the playoffs. Still, thanks to his dominance inside the paint, Moses Malone ranks 6th all-time in being the youngest player who ever won the regular-season MVP award.


5. Kareem Abdul-Jabar - 24 Years Old, 18 Days

1970-71 MVP Stats: 31.7 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 3.3 APG

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar seems to appear on every single all-time great list because his career was too great to put into words. Kareem was consistently dominant, and there is a reason why he is the leading scorer in NBA history in total points. Kareem played into his 40's at an All-Star level, something we have never seen before. But the big man was also an accomplished winner as soon as he stepped foot on an NBA court.

At age 24, in only his second season, Kareem managed to win the MVP award. Armed with an unstoppable sky hook shot, the center was unstoppable down low, which is why he led the NBA in scoring at 31.7 PPG on 57.7% shooting from the field. The center also ranked 1st in win shares, and the Milwaukee Bucks finished with the best record in the NBA at 66-16. As expected, Kareem topped it off with an NBA championship and Finals MVP award. Simply incredible stuff from arguably the greatest big man ever.


4. Bob McAdoo - 23 Years Old, 199 Days

1974-75 MVP Stats: 34.5 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 2.1 BPG

One of the greatest scorers of all time, Bob McAdoo seems to get the flowers he deserves from the contemporaries that played alongside him or against him. The Hall of Fame scorer was simply unstoppable in his prime, whether starting or coming off the bench, and has an undeniably great track record. McAdoo won 3 straight scoring titles as a member of the Buffalo Braves starting in his second season, indicating how special he was as an offensive star.

Specifically, in the 1974-75 season, which marked McAdoo’s third season in the league, he led the NBA in scoring while nailing 51.2% shooting from the field and also captured the league MVP award. Amazingly, McAdoo was only 23 years old but played like a veteran at the top of his game. A 6’9” power forward with exceptional quickness and skill, McAdoo ranks 4th all-time in terms of being the youngest MVP ever.


3. Bob Pettit - 23 Years, 98 Days Old

1955-56 MVP Stats: 25.7 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 2.6 APG

Bob Pettit, thanks to his dominance during the 1950s, might have to be on the Mt. Rushmore of big men thanks to his special skill, size, and leadership ability. Pettit was a beast in the 1955-1956 season for the St. Louis Hawks, averaging 25.7 PPG, 16.2 RPG, and 2.6 APG in the regular season. His scoring ranked 1st in the NBA, and he managed to win his first scoring title while making his second-straight All-Star Team.

Clearly, a dominant big man who could do a ton of things on the floor at a superstar level, Bob Pettit was almost unstoppable as he dominated the paint in only his second NBA season. The 6’9” big man ended up winning the MVP award at only 23 years old, and he showed the ability to lead his team to victory despite being of a very young age. Pettit would go on to build from the 1956 season to have one of the best careers in NBA history for a player competing in the 1950s.


2. Wes Unseld - 23 Years Old, 9 Days

1968-69 MVP Stats: 13.8 PPG, 18.2 RPG, 2.6 APG

One of the greatest big men of all time, Wes Unseld amazingly won the MVP award to pair with his Rookie of the Year award. The center was “only” 6’7”, but had the physicality and tenacity to be an impact player on the boards and the defensive end. The center only finished 5th on his team in scoring, but he ranked 1st in RPG and was the defensive leader on his team. As expected, the Baltimore Bullets finished with a very solid 57-25 record.

Unseld was only 22 years old when he won the MVP award, but he was already showcasing the ability to lead a team to one of the best records in the NBA and dominate the NBA in rebounds. It is very rare to see a rookie completely dominate the court in their first season, but Unseld is one of the very few to ever do that. Posting 13.8 PPG and 18.2 RPG at 23 years old, Unseld is the 2nd youngest MVP winner of all time.


1. Derrick Rose - 22 Years Old, 191 Days

2010-11 MVP Stats: 25.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Derrick Rose was an absolute monster in his prime and was completely unguardable in his MVP season. He was so special that he managed to win the MVP over LeBron James, the most dominant player in the game. Rose will go down as one of the greatest what-ifs in NBA history, and his MVP season will forever be etched in fans' memories. The point guard averaged 25.0 PPG and 7.7 APG for the Bulls, leading the team to the best record in the NBA.

Rose captivated audiences with exceptional athleticism and explosiveness because he was unstoppable at attacking the rim. The point guard was the most athletic player we had ever seen, considering he was only 6’2”, and no defender could truly stand in front of him and actually defend him. At only 22 years old, Rose drew constant double-teams and was still able to make everyone around him better. D-Rose showed incredible leadership at such a young age, which made him the youngest MVP winner in NBA history. 

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