One of the main storylines of this young NBA season is the battle for 2010 Rookie of the Year between Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans. If these two rooks avoid the rookie wall and maintain their current production (Evans 20 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.1 apg and Jennings 20.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.2 apg) we will use their rookie season as a measuring stick for incoming rookies for the next decade.
When looking at the past decade, I wondered which player’s Rookie season stood out the most, which rookie could be considered the rookie of the decade? Below is my ’00s All Rookie Team.
Stevie Franchise’s rookie season started with an interesting twist. Francis was drafted #2 overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies but he publically expressed his displeasure with playing in Vancouver, citing everything from the distance from his home to endorsements to God’s will as his reasoning. Eventually the Grizz granted Francis his wish and shipped him to Houston. As a Rocket, Steve Francis earned his Franchise moniker by notching 18.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 6.6 apg. He was the Co-Rookie of the year and was part of one of the greatest dunk contests of all time.
Chris Paul was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets with the 4th pick in the 2005-2006 draft. Paul became the face of a franchise devastated by Hurricane Katrina and was beloved in both Oklahoma City and New Orleans. Chris Paul stood out in his rookie class, leading all rookies in points, assists, steals and minutes. Paul was the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year and was the western conference rookie of the month every month during the 2005-2006 season. Paul finished the season averaging 16.1 ppg, 7.8 apg and 5.1 rpg, notching his first triple double against the Raptors (24 poitns, 12 rebounds and 12 assists).
No rookie has entered the NBA with as much hype as LeBron James did in 2003-2004. Before he stepped onto the NBA hardwood he signed a six figure deal with Nike. The Akron native was drafted number 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his first game he recorded 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. He averaged 20.9 ppg, 5.9 apg and 5.5 rpg on route to winning the Rookie of the Year. LeBron James joined Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only rookies to average 20/5/5.
Carmelo didn’t win the Rookie of the Year falling to LeBron James, but his rookie campaign was so impressive I had to include him on the all decade rookie team. After being selected 3rd overall (behind everyone’s favorite bust, Darko Milicic) in the 2003 draft, Carmelo went on to lead the Nuggets to a 26 win turn around and a playoff berth. Anthony became the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since the Admiral in the 1989-1990 season. During his rookie season Carmelo became the youngest player to score at least 40 points in a game, the 2nd youngest player to score 30 points in a game and the 3rd youngest player to reach the 1,000 point plateau. ‘Melo’s output of 21.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 2.8 apg earned him Rookie of the Year consideration. When LeBron was named Rookie of the Year many felt the considerable hype about James prevent Melo from getting his due as co-rookie of the year.
Elton Brand stands out among all of the rookie bigs from the ’00s. The 2000 Rookie of the Year posted 20.1 ppg and 10.0 rpg as a rookie for the Chicago Bulls, better numbers than he putting up this season. Statistically he put up better numbers than Dwight Howard and Yao Ming as rookies. Brand came to the Bulls when they were desperate for a star player to replace their franchise player, Michael Jordan. Brand was seen as the leader of the new young Bulls. Brand earned Co-Rookie of the Year honors with Steve Francis and hit the NBA with the same stride he left Duke with.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy
Who would be your Rookie of the Decade
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