Playing in the NBA takes years of hard work and dedication. Each year, a breath of fresh air is injected into the NBA when the draft takes place. Every season the draft class helps in getting young basketball phenoms to finally get a chance to play in the biggest league in the world.
But even among them, there are a few players that are simply better than the others. As a result, when the players' rookie year comes to an end, the best player from the draft class is bestowed upon with the NBA Rookie Of The Year honor.
Although that is the usual case in the long history of the league, there have been a few incidents when there wasn't one winner of the ROTY award. Instead, the two players shared the honors as it was simply impossible to crown a single winner.
The list is incredibly exclusive and there have only been three times when such a situation has arisen in the league. So today we will take a look at the players that featured in the three draft classes with co-rookies of the year awards.
1970-71 Co-Rookies Of The Year
This was the first time since the NBA Rookie Of The Year awards were started to be kept in tabs that the two players shared the award. The first one between them was Geoff Petrie, who amassed 36 points out of the 98 points possible. As a result, he was crowned ROTY alongside Dave Cowens.
Looking back at Petrie's rookie season, he averaged a stunning 24.8 points per game that season and even earned a place in the NBA All-Star team. It was the first of two selections for the NBA All-Star team throughout his career in the league. He also maintained a 44.3% shooting percentage.
Couple that with 3.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, it was truly a great rookie year for him. Unfortunately, he injured his leg at the age of 28 and never truly recovered from it as the 1975-76 season would turn out to be the last time fans saw him don an NBA jersey.
Now shifting our focus towards the player that shared the award with Petrie, Dave Cowens also received 36 points that season. Unlike Petrie, Cowens didn't put insane scoring numbers in the box score; instead, he was a beast in amassing rebounds. He averaged 15.0 rebounds and 17.0 points per game in his rookie season.
He also had a similar shooting percentage to that of Petrie and finished the season with 42.2 FG%. While Petrie's career was cut short, Cowens had a phenomenal time in the NBA. He spent the best days of his career with the Boston Celtics while winning two NBA championships with the team as well.
He also had a regular season and All-Star game MVP award under his belt as well, so you can get an idea of how amazing of a player Cowens truly was. For his contributions during his career, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
1994-95 Co-Rookies Of The Year
The 1994-95 rookie class wasn't loaded with superstar talent. However, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were the exceptions. First, let's talk about Kidd, who had a long and stellar career in the NBA. The NBA Hall of Famer was known for his passing ability and creating opportunities for his teammates. He started to show signs of that skill from the very first season he stepped foot in the league.
During his rookie year, Kidd dished out the ball 7.7 times in a game and also contributed 11.7 PPG. Additionally, Kidd had a knack for stealing the ball as he finished the season with 1.9 steals per game. Although Kidd was drafted by the Mavericks, he only played two and a half seasons with the franchise during his first stint with them. But later returned towards the end of his career and ended up winning an NBA title as well.
Speaking of his rookie season, Kidd received 43 first points for his amazing season and of course bagged it in. He also led the league in triple-doubles while featuring in All-Rookie First Team.
Grant Hill is most popularly known as one of the biggest victims of a player whose career was ruined by injuries. At one point, Hill was even being compared to none other than 'His Airness' Michael Jordan. However, due to multiple injuries, his career was derailed from the right path.
Anyway, at least he started things off in a perfect way. Being the third overall pick in the NBA, there is a huge burden on your shoulders. Hill handled the pressure gracefully and blossomed into a great young player. In his rookie year, Hill averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. He also snatched the ball away 1.8 times a game and proved his defensive prowess to the league.
The biggest highlight of his rookie year was leading the NBA All-Star fan voting and becoming the first-ever rookie to achieve this feat. Although he was unable to get a championship ring, he was still inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The early years of his career definitely played a pivotal role in that.
1999-00 NBA Co-Rookies Of The Year
Coming to the last two players that achieved this rare feat. Let's start off with Steve Francis, who was part of the 1999-00 NBA draft class. The Vancouver Grizzlies originally drafted him with the second overall pick in the draft, but Francis didn't want to play for them. As a result, he was traded to the Houston Rockets before the season even began.
He finished his inaugural season in the league with 18.0 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Certainly solid numbers for the number two pick in the draft. He turned into a fine player for the team as he was also selected for the NBA All-Star team three times in his nine-year-long career in the league.
Despite getting off to a great start in the NBA, his prime was short, and getting injured certainly didn't help his chances. He had a poetic ending to his career as he retired with the Houston Rockets, where it all began for him.
Elton Brand was drafted at the number one spot by the Chicago Bulls in the 1999 NBA draft class. The then-20-year-old became an instant success for the team. He had a great rookie reason where he bagged 58 votes to become the Co-Rookie Of The Year winner alongside Steve Francis. For his efforts in his first season in the league, he also made the cut for the All-Rookie First Team as well.
Shedding some light on his stats during the rookie season, he averaged a solid 20.1 points, 10 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game. He started 80 out of the total 81 games that he played for the Bulls that season.
Brand also took part in the Rookie Challenge at the All-Star Weekend, where he took home the MVP honors. All things considered, he had a memorable rookie year and over the next few years continued to grow. Another major award that he won was being part of the 2005-06 All-NBA team.
These are the three official times when the NBA announced Co-Rookies Of The Year winners. But there has been one more time that this incident occurred as per Basketball-Reference.
"The first Rookie of the Year officially recognized by the NBA is Monk Meineke in 1952-53. However, newspaper writers recognized winners from 1947-48 to 1951-52, as well. These awards were at one point recognized by the NBA and they admitted they had lost the records of these awards when they moved offices in the early days of the league. They no longer include them in their official records but we have decided to display them here."
Stats via Basketball-Reference