5 NBA Legends Who Missed Out on Rookie of the Year

Discover five NBA legends who didn’t win Rookie of the Year despite their illustrious careers. Learn the untold tales.

Sometimes, winning Rookie of the Year comes down to timing because certain rookie classes may be more stacked than others and certain players may just be better players overall. Many great players and NBA icons have finished very well despite not being awarded Rookie of the Year. This article will examine five great NBA players who were not named the greatest rookie in their respective classes.

  • Stephen Curry

With the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry has won three championships and been named the NBA MVP twice. He is a legend, and because of what he stands for now, many people could assume that he was the first pick in his draft and that he won Rookie of the Year in his first NBA season.

All of those statements are untrue. In his first season in the NBA, Curry, the seventh choice overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, averaged 17.5 points, 5.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 46/44/89 shooting splits per game. But Tyreke Evans, who averaged 20 points, five rebounds, and six assists, took home the 2009–10 Rookie of the Year title.

  • Hakeem Olajuwon

A basketball legend, Hakeem Olajuwon is perhaps the best centre in NBA history. Naturally, Olajuwon was one of the most potent offensive threats in the NBA’s low post ever. The Houston Rockets selected him with the first pick in the illustrious 1984 NBA Draft, and the organisation saw immediate success with him as a rookie.

With the Rockets, “The Dream” would go on to win two championships, two MVPs in the Finals, one MVP in the regular season, and several Defensive Player of the Year honours. But there is one thing that his resume lacks, and if you are an avid NBA fan, you can probably guess who prevented Olajuwon from being named Rookie of the Year. During his debut year in the 1984–85 NBA season, Olajuwon averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. However, after adding MVP-calibre stats of 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 steals per game, Michael Jordan took home the Rookie of the Year title.

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  • Kobe Bryant

As far as the NBA is concerned, Kobe Bryant will always be remembered as the most iconic player in LA Lakers history. Bryant has an impeccable legacy and a stellar basketball record while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite winning two MVP awards in the Finals, five NBA championships, and a regular-season MVP, Bryant developed his basketball talents gradually after joining the league straight out of high school. Bryant, who was only eighteen, participated in 71 games during his rookie campaign, but he only made six starts. In addition, he scored 7.6 points on average in fewer than 16 minutes of play each game. Rookie of the Year that year went to Allen Iverson, the first choice in the 1996 NBA Draft; Bryant was not given any consideration.

  • Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson was the top pick in the 1979 NBA Draft and went on to have an incredible rookie season, leading to his title as Finals MVP following his legendary 42-point, 15-rebound, and seven-assist effort against the Philadelphia 76ers in game six of the 1980 Finals.

Johnson went on to win three MVP awards in the Finals, three regular-season MVP awards, and four more NBA titles. Despite having more overall trophy wins than his opponent Larry Bird, Bird defeated Johnson to win Rookie of the Year in 1980, receiving 63 votes to Magic’s meagre three. Bird defeated Magic, who had averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game, to win Rookie of the Year with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game.

  • Bill Russell

Bill Russell, who won 11 titles in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics and even a couple as the team’s player/coach, possesses what is perhaps the most untouchable record in NBA history.

In his debut season of 1956–57, Russell helped the Celtics capture their first NBA title. Throughout his career, Russell won five regular-season MVP honours. But Tom Heinsohn, his teammate, took home the 1956–57 Rookie of the Year trophy. Heinsohn scored 16.2 points and pulled down 9.8 rebounds each game on average, while Russell averaged 14.7 points and 19.6 rebounds. But Heinsohn played a team-high 72 games and was named Rookie of the Year, whereas Russell only played 48 games during the regular season.

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