The second overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Brandon Ingram, is playing in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Given the high expectations for him, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the top NBA rookie-season performances of all-time.
Our list of the Top 5 All-Time NBA Rookie Seasons:
#5. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Taken third overall in the NBA Draft, Michael Jordan averaged 28.2 points, 5.9 assists, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.39 steals per game in his rookie season. That year Jordan powered a team that had won only 27 games the previous season to their first trip to the playoffs since 1981. Ne was named Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-NBA Second team, and would go on to transform the Chicago Bulls into a league powerhouse.
#4. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals
Oscar Robertson was a three-time NCAA Division I scoring leader when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals in the 1960 NBA draft. In his first season as a professional he came razor close to averaging a triple double. In his rookie campaign Robertson averaged a 30.9 points per game, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.7 assists. He won the 1960 Rookie of the Year, was selected to the All-NBA First Team, and won the All-Star MVP award.
#3. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
Larry Bird was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 6th overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, but wouldn’t enter the league until a year later. In his rookie season Bird averaged 21.3 points, shot 41 percent from behind the arc, and added 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Bird would win the Rookie of the Year award, and a year later the Celtics would win their first NBA Championship since 1976.
#2. Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
A “territorial pick” by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain went on to average a monstrous 37.6 points per game along with 27 rebounds in his rookie season. That year he became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and league MVP awards in the same season. He also paced the Warriors to the second-best record in the league and a surprise birth in the NBA Finals.
#1. Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers came into the 1979 season with a new owner, a new coach, and the 1st overall pick in the draft. Earvin “Magic” Johnson was selected out of Michigan State, and would average 18.0 points, 7.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game.
Alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers would go 60-22 that season and meet the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals. Abdul-Jabbar was dominant in the first 5 games, but an ankle injury would keep him out of Game 6 nursing a 3-2 series lead. Johnson would start Game #6 at center and scored 42 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the series clinching win.
Johnson would be the first and only rookie to be awarded the Finals MVP and the Lakers would go on to dominate for years to come behind his play and leadership.
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