Top 5 rookie seasons in NBA History. A new season is on the horizon meaning there is another ‘draft class’ eager to make their mark on the league. Anthony Edwards and co will have to have a special year to keep up with these namest hough. Here we look at the best rookie seasons in NBA history.
Number 5. Michael Jordan
When you hear ‘best’ and ‘NBA’ mentioned in the same sentence, it’s rare that Michael Jordan’s name isn’t in the discussion.
Most people regard the Chicago Bulls hero as the Greatest of All Time and Jordan was setting standards from his inaugural campaign back in 1984/85.
The third overall pick started a league high of 82 games in the season averaging an impressive 28.2 points per game with 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists also to his name; the latter of those two stats were above his career average.
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Considering what followed in MJ’s career, it’s fair to say his first year wasn’t half bad.
Number 4. Walt Bellamy
Had Bellamy landed in the NBA more recently the hype around him would have been off the charts after a record breaking college career.
Of course, by the standards of the era, he still had plenty of attention on him back in the early sixties. He did not disappoint.
Bellamy, who was with the Chicago Packers (now the Washington Wizards), burst onto the scene with performances that saw him post career highs in both rebounds (19.0 per game) and points (31.6).
He was, of course, named Rookie of the Year and the season also saw the first of four consecutive All-Star honours.We still believe, however, that he deserved a place in the top 10 underrated players in NBA history by BetAmerica.
Number 3. Oscar Robertson
Robertson, a territorial pick from 1960, not only had to adapt to the elite level but he had to do so as he faced a barrage of racial abuse.
As the saying goes, the best thing you can is to ‘do your talking on the court’. The point guard did exactly that. His 71 appearances in 1961 saw him post a total of 2,165 points, 717 rebounds and a league leading 689 assists –that a game average of 9.7.
The season wasn’t a great one for the Cincinnati Royals but ‘the Big O’ had exceeded expectations in a big way.
He not only made the All-NBA First Team but the All-Star game too where he was named match MVP to cap of a terrific first year.
Number 2. Wes Unseld
Unseld, who sadly passed away earlier this year, opted for a crack at the elite rather than money when he joined the Bullets back in 1968, he turned down a better financial package with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA.
The history books now look back on that decision as a smart choice with Unseld having left a legacy post-retirement. His rookie year is a huge part of that despite the fact his raw stats don’t measure up with most on this list –although, that said, a career high 18.2 rebounds in his first season isn’t too shabby.
What he did manage though was to help his team to the Eastern Division title. It earned him Rookie of the Year honours and he was also named league MVP.
Number 1.Wilt Chamberlain
It was going to take something special to keep Unseld off top spot. As it turns out, he couldn’t get close to the bar Wilt Chamberlain set just nineyears earlier.
The former Harlem Globetrotter joined the NBA in 1959 when the Philadelphia Warriors selected him and he maintained that show boating style as he dominated in his first season amongst the elite.
He led the league in points with a whopping game average of 37.6 and in rebounds at 27.0, which just shy of his own NBA record that was set the following season.
Come the season end, he was drowning in individual honours. He was part of the All-Star game -then bossed that to be named game MVP –andalso earned First Team honours. The crowning moment though was his award of both the Rookie of the Year award and the league MVP crown.
He was the first person to win bothin the same season and, as of today, some 60 years later, only he and Unseld have achieved the feat. There you have it, the best rookie seasons in NBA history