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Several Rookie of the Year winners have become legends of the game
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NBA: Best rookie seasons

The new NBA season is only in its infancy, but Orlando Magic youngster Paolo Banchero is already making a strong case for the Rookie of the Year award.

The Duke product has scored at least 20 points in all four of his games so far and is averaging 23.3 per-game, as well as 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

However, the Magic are yet to win a game and with plenty of the season remaining the award for the best newcomer is by no means a forgone conclusion.

The likes of Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Luka Doncic have all won the coveted Rookie of the Year award in years gone by, and we've had a look at some of the best rookie seasons of all time.

Wilt Chamberlain 1959-60

Way back in the 1959-60 season, the legendary Wilt Chamberlain had an unrivalled rookie season with Philadelphia Warriors, now the Golden State Warriors.

Chamberlain averaged an incredible 37.6 points-per-game and 27 rebounds in his debut campaign and picked up both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.

Chamberlain would return to Philadelphia to represent the 76ers in 1965 after the Warriors had relocated to San Diego and won his first championship with the Sixers in 1965, before adding a second and final ring to his collection with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972.

Oscar Robertson won the award the following year averaging close to a triple-double with 30.5 points-per-game, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists. Then in 1962, Walt Bellamy averaged 31.6 points and 19 rebounds per game for the Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) in a strong period for newcomers.

Lew Alcindor 1969-1970

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began his career as Lew Alcindor and he was an exceptional rookie. Alcindor ranked second in the league in scoring with 28.8 points-per-game in his debut season and also averaged 14.5 rebounds with Milwaukee Bucks.

Abdul-Jabbar went on to become the NBA's all-time leading point scorer with 38,387 career points, a record that still stands, a six-time champion and a six-time MVP.

Michael Jordan 1984-85

Michael Jordan may well be the greatest to ever play the game as he finished his career as a six-time champion, six-time Finals MVP and five-time MVP.

However, he was only the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, as Houston Rockets opted for center Hakeem Olajuwon Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie ahead of him.

By the end of his debut season it was painfully obvious the Blazers had made an error, as Jordan averaged 28.2 point-per-games, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists while shooting over 50% from the field, and earned a starting spot in the All-Star Game.

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Larry Bird 1979-1980

Larry Bird edged out Magic Johnson for ROTY honours at the start of one of the greatest rivalries in NBA history as he averaged 21.3 points-per-game and 10.4 rebounds.

Like Jordan, Bird earned an All-Star selection in his first season in the league and with him in the team the Boston Celtics won 32 more games than they did the previous year, instantly transforming them into title contenders.

They reached the conference finals in Bird’s rookie year, having missed out on the postseason in the previous campaign.

Bird finished his career as a three-time champion and three-time MVP, spending his entire career with Boston.

Blake Griffin 2010-11

Blake Griffin was selected with the first overall pick by Los Angeles Clippers in the 2009 NBA Draft but then missed the entirety of what would have been his rookie season after sustaining a knee injury in preseason.

The Oklahoma product made up for lost time with a sensational debut season as he started all 82 of the Clippers regular season games, averaging 22.5 points-per-game and 12.1 rebounds - the latter stat remains a career-high - as well as winning the Rookie of the Year award and an All-Star spot.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Chet Holmgren, this year's second overall pick, has been ruled out for the whole season with a foot injury and can perhaps take some inspiration from Griffin’s struggles.

Luka Doncic 2018-19

Due to the evolution of basketball, and sport in general, it has become harder for rookies to make the same kind of instant impact they did in years gone by but there are a few exceptions.

Doncic was selected with the third overall pick by Atlanta Hawks in 2018, but then traded to Dallas Mavericks.

The Slovenian already had three years as a professional with Real Madrid in Europe, but the NBA is a big step up but he quickly established himself as one of the league's stars in his debut campaign.

Doncic averaged 21.2 points-per-game, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists, as well as becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record three triple-doubles among various other records on his way to Rookie of the Year.

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