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Top 10 Rookie Seasons In NBA History

By 12.07.11
Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain Rookie Card


5. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (1979-80)
Stats: 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game
Awards: All-Star Game, Rookie of the Year

Drafted by Boston with the sixth pick in the 1978 NBA Draft, Bird was an almost unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, picking up 63 of 66 ballots – an amazing feat considering Magic Johnson was also a rookie that season. The Celtics were 29-53 the year before his arrival, but with Bird improved to 61-21, posting the NBA’s best regular season record and earning Larry Legend a spot on the All-NBA First Team.

4. Walt Bellamy, Chicago Packers (1961-62)
Stats: 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds per game
Awards: All-Star Game, Rookie of the Year

Drafted by Chicago with the first pick in the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy’s name is often forgotten when discussing the best rookie seasons in NBA history. His 31.6 points per game is second all-time for a rookie, and the 19.0 rebounds per game is third best. If that’s not enough of a reason to make this list, he also led the NBA in field goal percentage during his rookie year too.

3. Lew Alcindor, Milwaukee Bucks (1969-70)
Stats: 28.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game
Awards: All-Star Game, Rookie of the Year

Drafted by Milwaukee with the first pick in the 1969 NBA Draft, Alcindor became the face of the franchise right away. His presence enabled the Bucks to finish with a 56-26 record, up from 27-55 the previous year, earning him All-NBA Second Team honors.

2. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals (1960-61)
Stats: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game
Awards: All-Star Game, All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year

Drafted by Cincinnati with the first pick in the 1960 NBA Draft, all you have to know about Robertson is that he almost averaged a triple-double his first rookie year. Exactly. That’s a surefire way to earn a spot on the All-NBA First Team.

1. Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors (1959-60)
Stats: 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds per game
Awards: All-Star Game, Rookie of the Year, MVP

Drafted by Philadelphia with the third pick in the 1959 NBA Draft, Chamberlain became the impact player everyone expected him to be. Setting NBA records with 2,707 points and 1,941 rebounds, the Warriors went 49-26 after finishing 32-40 the season before. Oh yeah, he also won Rookie of the Year, MVP and a spot on the All-NBA First Team.

This piece first appeared on the Foot Locker Unlocked Blog

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