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The Last 40 Rookies Of The Year: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, And Shaquille O'Neal Started Their Incredible Careers Winning This Award

The Last 40 Rookies Of The Year: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, And Shaquille O'Neal Started Their Incredible Careers Winning This Award

When a team falls to the bottom of the standings, they are hopeful that their lottery pick can help change the direction of their franchise. Right now, the jury is out on Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green as they are a part of long rebuilding projects. However, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes are looking like real game-changers. With that said, some picks are diamonds in the rough as second-rounder Ayo Dosunmu is making some noise for being considered for the All-Rookie First Team.

History has shown that the No. 1 overall pick is a likely candidate for winning Rookie of the Year. They were ready to compete at a high level and they proved that during their first season. While Mobley and Barnes are in contention right now, it could mean great things for their future. Looking back, a lot of these ROYs became Hall of Famers. Could that be the same for some of the recent selections down the line?

Here are the last 40 players to win Rookie of the Year.


1981-82 - Buck Williams (New Jersey Nets)

Stats: 15.5 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG

After three seasons at Maryland, Williams decided to forgo his senior season. The Nets selected him with the No. 3 overall pick. In his first season, Williams averaged 15.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. The Nets improved by 20 games and finished with a 44-38 record. Williams eventually became the all-time leading scorer with the team later in his career.


1992-83 - Terry Cummings (San Diego Clippers)

Stats: 23.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Cummings was selected with the No. 2 overall pick, right behind James Worthy by the Lakers. Cummings nearly didn’t play with the Clippers because of a run-in with former owner Donald Sterling, who made all players do their laundry. In the end, the two sides agreed on a contract and Cummings won Rookie of the Year by averaging 23.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. These ended up being career highs.


1983-84 - Ralph Sampson (Houston Rockets)

Stats: 21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.4 BPG

When Sampson was drafted No. 1, he was drawing comparisons to Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. As a rookie, he averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds and was selected as an All-Star. The Rockets managed only a 29-53 record though and netted the No. 1 overall pick for the 1984 draft. That is where the team selected Hakeem Olajuwon.


1984-85 - Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)

Stats: 28.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Jordan averaged 28.2 points per game and shot 51.3% from the field. He helped the team go through a quick turnaround as the Bulls were much more competitive. Jordan was voted an All-Star starter during his rookie season. At the All-Star Game, veteran players, led by Isiah Thomas, “froze out” Jordan and refused to pass him the ball. The Bulls finished the season 38-44 and qualified for the playoffs.


1985-86 - Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)

Stats: 20.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 2.1 BPG

Despite suffering multiple injuries, Ewing averaged 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. It didn’t take long for Ewing to distinguish himself as one of the game's best centers. He made the All-Rookie First Team and would go on to help the Knicks emerge as a tough opponent throughout the 80s and 90s.


1986-87 - Chuck Person (Indiana Pacers)

Stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG

After being selected by the Pacers with the No. 4 overall pick, Person won Rookie of the Year by averaging 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. The small forward for the Pacers eventually became known as “the Rifleman” for his three-point shooting. His rookie year was also the only season he averaged more than 1.0 steals per game.


1987-88 - Mark Jackson (New York Knicks)

Stats: 13.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 10.6 APG, 2.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Jackson was a steal in 1988 after being drafted with the No. 18 overall pick. He teamed up with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley to help the Knicks become legitimate playoff contenders. Paired with Rick Pitino, Jackson won Rookie of the Year by averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 assists per game. He became the lowest draft pick to win ROY since Woody Sauldsberry in 1958. He was also the only non-lottery pick to have won the award since the system was introduced in 1985.


1988-89 - Mitch Richmond (Golden State Warriors)

Stats: 22.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG

After two successful seasons with the Kansas Jayhawks, the Warriors drafted Richmond with the No. 5 overall pick. Richmond averaged 22.0 points per game. He was a key player in Don Nelson’s fast-paced offense. With Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, the team was dubbed as “Run TMC,” where they took the initials of each player to form the nickname.


1989-90 - David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)

Stats: 24.3 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.9 BPG

When Robinson first entered the league, there was speculation that he was not going to join. Robinson was rumored to join the naval service where he could reenter the draft. Instead, he moved to San Antonio after the Spurs agreed to pay him as much as the average of the two highest-paid players in the league. The Spurs bottomed out with 21 wins, but Robinson won Rookie of the Year.


1990-91 - Derrick Coleman (New Jersey Nets)

Stats: 18.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Coleman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. He averaged 18.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and went on to win Rookie of the Year. That was the highlight of Coleman’s career as he never made an All-Star Game, but he did enjoy a long career that lasted to 2005. As for the Nets, the team finished 26-56 and near the bottom of the standings.


1991-92 - Larry Johnson (Charlotte Hornets)

Stats: 19.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Johnson was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the No. 1 overall pick. He played in all 82 games and averaged 19.2 points and 11.0 rebounds. He nearly shot 50% from the field but settled for 49%, as well as 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals. He also competed in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest, finishing second to Cedric Ceballos of the Suns.


1992-93 - Shaquille O’Neal (Orlando Magic)

Stats: 23.4 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.7 SPG, 3.5 BPG

Shaq made it another No. 1 overall pick winning Rookie of the Year. During his first week in the NBA, he was named Player of the Week, becoming the first player to ever accomplish that. Shaq averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and shot 56.2% from the field. He was named an All-Star starter, the first since Michael Jordan in 1985. The Magic finished 41-41 and won 20 more games than the previous season.


1993-94 - Chris Webber (Golden State Warriors)

Stats: 17.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 2.2 BPG

Webber was a huge piece in helping the Warriors back to contending at a high level. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds. He led the Warriors to the playoffs, but the team was swept by Charles Barkley and the Suns. Webber’s greatest rise to fame was his passing skills after Nelson wanted to primarily make him a post player.


1994-95 - Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons) And Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)

Grant Hill Stats: 19.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Jason Kidd Stats: 11.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

After graduating from Duke, Hill was taken by the Pistons with the No. 3 overall pick. He averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He became the first Pistons rookie since Isiah Thomas in 1982 to score 1,000 points in a season. Hill ended up sharing the award with Jason Kidd, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Kidd averaged 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. He led the NBA in triple-doubles and helped the Mavericks win 23 more games than the previous season.


1995-96 - Damon Stoudamire (Toronto Raptors)

Stats: 19.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 9.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Stoudamire faced adversity before he ever stepped foot on the court. At the draft, fans called for the Raptors to draft UCLA standout Ed O’Bannon with their first-ever draft pick. Instead, the crowd booed when Stoudamire was selected. He ended up proving everyone wrong when he averaged 19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game. He set a record for three-point field goals made by a rookie with 133, breaking the record previously held by Dennis Scott. The record is now held by Donovan Mitchell, who made 187 threes.


1996-97 - Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)

Stats: 23.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 7.5 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Taken with the No. 1 overall pick out of Georgetown, Iverson became the shortest first overall pick in league history. Iverson scored 30 points in his NBA debut, which tied Willie Anderson for the third-most points by a rookie guard in his debut. His best memory might have come against the Bulls, who were 55-8 at the time, and he scored 37 points. He eventually broke Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie record of three straight games of 40 points by doing it five times. Iverson averaged 23.5 points and 7.5 assists for the season.


1997-98 - Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)

Stats: 21.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.5 BPG

The Spurs were coming off an injury-riddled season that saw their best player David Robinson face injury trouble. When the Spurs took Duncan with the No. 1 overall pick, the two quickly formed the “Twin Towers.” The two formed an exceptional defensive combination. Duncan started all 82 games and averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.5 blocks, earning All-NBA First Team honors. He won the Rookie of the Month Award every single month that season.


1998-99 - Vince Carter (Toronto Raptors)

Stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG

Due to the lockout, Carter didn’t start the 1998-1998 season until January 1999. He quickly became a fan favorite with soaring, powerful dunks, which dubbed him the nickname “Air Canada.” He averaged 18.3 points per game for the season and set the stage for a standout sophomore season that saw him participate in an epic Slam Dunk Contest.


1999-00 - Elton Brand (Chicago Bulls) And Steve Francis (Houston Rockets)

Elton Brand Stats: 20.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.6 BPG

Steve Francis Stats: 18.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Taken with the No. 1 overall pick. Brand rose to fame in his ninth game of the season, where he recorded 29 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks. He was later voted the MVP of the Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend. However, his success didn’t help the Bulls, who finished 17-65. As for Francis, he was taken with the No. 2 pick by the Vancouver Grizzlies, who traded him to Houston in an 11-player deal. Francis also finished runner-up at the Slam Dunk Contest to Vince Carter.


2000-01 - Mike Miller (Orlando Magic)

Stats: 11.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Taken with the No. 5 overall pick, Miller won the Rookie of the Year Award by being the only first-year player to appear in all 82 games during the season. He started 62 games where he averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and shot 40.7% from the field.


2001-02 - Pau Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)

Stats: 17.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.1 BPG

Gasol became the first foreign player to win Rookie of the Year and was named All-Rookie First Team. Gasol averaged 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He was the only team member to play in all 82 games. Gasol quickly became a dominant power forward in the league that would be worth a major trade package in 2008.


2002-03 - Amar’e Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)

Stats: 13.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG

During his rookie season, Stoudemire averaged 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. His season-high was 38 points against the Timberwolves and Kevin Garnett. It was the highest-scoring output by a prep-to-pro player until LeBron James broke the record one season later. Stoudemire had some tough competition this season, beating out Yao Ming and Caron Butler, but he would eventually become the first player drafted out of high school to win ROY.


2003-04 - LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Stats: 20.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Selected No. 1 overall by his hometown team, James scored 25 points against the Kings in his debut. It set an NBA record for the most points scored by a prep-to-pro player in his debut. By the end of the year, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He became the third player in league history to average at least 20/5/5 as a rookie.


2004-05 - Emeka Okafor (Charlotte Bobcats)

Stats: 15.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.7 BPG

After helping the University of Connecticut win a national championship, Okafor was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by Charlotte Bobcats. The following day, he joined the United States Olympic team and earned a bronze medal. Okafor recorded 19 straight double-doubles at one point in the season and nearly made the All-Star Game. He eventually beat out former college teammate and roommate Ben Gordon to win ROY.


2005-06 - Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)

Stats: 16.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 7.8 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Paul was taken with the No. 4 overall pick. Due to the destruction from Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets played most of their games in Oklahoma City during Paul’s first two seasons. In his debut season, Paul led all rookies in total points, assists, steals, double-doubles, and became the second rookie in NBA history to lead the league in steals as a rookie. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He was one vote shy of winning the award unanimously with the other vote going to Deron Williams.


2006-07 - Brandon Roy (Portland Trail Blazers)

Stats: 16.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG

In his rookie debut, Roy scored 20 points against the SuperSonics. However, he missed 20 games due to an impingement in his left heel. Roy scored his first career double-double in his return. At the end of January 2007, Roy led all rookie scorers and became the first Trail Blazers to participate in the Rookie Challenge since it began in 1994. Roy finished the year as Rookie of the Month in January, February, and March. Playing in only 57 games this season, he played in the second-fewest games to ever win ROY.


2007-08 - Kevin Durant (Seattle SuperSonics)

Stats: 20.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG

After Portland decided to draft Greg Oden, the SuperSonics took Durant with the No. 2 overall pick. The 19-year old registered 18 points, five rebounds, and three steals in his first game. Later in November, he made his first game-winning shot against the Hawks. By the end of the year, Durant averaged 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He joined Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James as the only teenagers to ever average at least 20 points per game in a season.


2008-09 - Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)

Stats: 16.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Rose was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by Chicago, where he played high school basketball. Rose became the first Bulls draftee to score 10 or more points in his first 10 games since Michael Jordan. Rose earned Rookie of the Month in November and December. Rose averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 assists on 47.5% shooting. In his playoff debut, Rose recorded 36 points, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA record scored by a rookie in his playoff debut.


2009-10 - Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)

Stats: 20.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG

At the beginning of the season, Evans was named Rookie of the Month for averaging 18.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes of work. One month later, he led the Kings back from a 35-point deficit against the Bulls, where he scored nine of the final 11 points. He earned the 2010 Rookie and Sophomore Game MVP when he recorded 26 points at All-Star Weekend. By the end of the season, he joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James as the only rookies to average at least 20/5/5 in a season as a rookie.


2010-11 - Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)

Stats: 22.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Since Griffin missed the entire 2009-2010 season, he was considered a rookie the following year. In his debut, Griffin scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. He set a franchise record for most consecutive double-doubles with 27, which was the longest rookie double-doubles streak since 1968. Griffin scored a career-high 44 points and then scored 47 the following night, which was a franchise record for most points scored by a rookie. Griffin was voted an All-Star reserve in 2011, becoming the first rookie to play since Yao Ming in 2002. With six Rookie of the Month honors, this was an easy win.


2011-12 - Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Irving played one season at Duke and then joined the NBA Draft, where he was taken with the No. 1 overall pick. Irving made the Rising Stars Challenge, where he played for Team Chuck and scored 34 points, including 8 for 8 from three-point range. Irving earned MVP honors and easily claimed ROY with 117 of the 120 votes. Irving averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, and shot 39.9% from the three-point range.


2012-13 - Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

Stats: 19.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Coming out of Lehigh, not too many expected this, but Lillard put on a dazzling rookie season. Lillard averaged 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and played 38.6 minutes per game in 82 games, all starting. Lillard joined Blake Griffin, David Robinson, and Ralph Sampson as the only unanimous winners. He also joined Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson to score at least 1,500 points and 500 assists in a rookie season.


2013-14 - Michael Carter-Williams (Philadelphia 76ers)

Stats: 16.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG

It took Carter-Williams a month to record his first career triple-double, which was the same game Victor Oladipo, another rookie, recorded his first. It was the first time since 1964 that two players recorded their first career triple-double in the same game. Carter-Williams led all rookies in scoring, assists, steals, and minutes per game in January. He finished the season averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. He joined Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only rookies to ever average at least 16/6/6 as a rookie. He became the first rookie drafted 10th or later to win the award since Mark Jackson in 1987.


2014-15 - Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Stats: 19.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Wiggins earned Rookie of the Month for the first two months of the season. He scored a season-high 33 points against the Cavaliers in January. Wiggins won the Rising Stars Challenge MVP after scoring 22 points to lead Team World past Team USA 121-112. For the season, Wiggins averaged 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.


2015-16 - Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Stats: 18.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.7 BPG

For the second straight year, the Timberwolves earned the No. 1 overall pick. For the second straight year, the Timberwolves' No. 1 pick won Rookie of the Year. Towns recorded over 50 double-doubles for the season and set the franchise rookie scoring record, breaking Christian Laettner’s old record with 1,475 points. He played and started in all 82 games and averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He earned Rookie of the Month in each of the season’s six months and became the fifth unanimous Rookie of the Year.


2016-17 - Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee Bucks)

Stats: 10.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Brogdon entered rare territory by winning ROY. The Bucks drafted him with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Brogdon joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only player in team history to win the award. More importantly, he became the first player drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft to win since 1965. His 10.2 points per game were the fewest points averaged by any winner in league history.


2017-18 - Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

Stats: 15.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 8.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Simmons set a team rookie record for assists, besting Allen Iverson’s old mark of 567. Simmons helped the 76ers set a franchise record by winning 15 straight games during the season. He helped the team win 52-30, which was their best finish in the regular season since 2001. He earned four Rookie of the Month Awards and subsequently won ROY. Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game.


2018-19 - Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Stats: 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 6.0- APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG

On January 21, Doncic recorded his first triple-double in the NBA with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He became the third-youngest player in NBA history, 19 years and 327 days, to record a triple-double. Doncic made triple-doubles a regular occurrence during the season, which helped him finish 8th in total voting for the All-Star Game. Despite the high volume, he was not selected as an All-Star. Doncic became the fifth rookie in league history to average at least 20/5/5 and became the second European player to win ROY, joining Pau Gasol.


2019-20 - Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)

Stats: 17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 7.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Many thought that Zion Williamson was going to be the most explosive player out of the draft. Instead, Ja Morant impressed everyone with his athletic moves. Morant led all rookies in assists with 7.1 per game, as well as total points (1,138). Morant averaged 17.8 points per game and led the Grizzlies to the play-in tournament. Now, he is an All-Star starter for the 2022 All-Star Game.


2020-21 - LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)

Stats: 15.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Ball, the younger brother of Lonzo Ball, joined the Hornets as a lottery pick in 2020 as the No. 3 overall selection. One day after playing his brother, he became the youngest player in NBA history (19 years, 140 days) to record a triple-double, which has since been broken by Josh Giddey. Ball earned Rookie of the Month in December, January, and February. He later became the youngest player in franchise history to score at least 30 points in a game. He suffered a fractured bone in his right wrist, which caused him to play just 51 games, but his 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists were deemed good enough to beat out Anthony Edwards for ROY. 

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