The Lineup #5: NBA ROOKS, Top 10 of the Last 10.

Posted: February 7, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NBA
Tags: , , , ,

There’s been a lot of buzz this year around the blowup of Blake Griffin on the scene. His every move has been broadcast by SportsCenter it seems, and his efforts have even lifted the Clippers up to some measure of success, something that waves of rooks from Danny Manning to Michael Olowakandi couldn’t pull off.


Griffin has blown up on the spot this year. Where does it place him amongst his' peers debuts though?


However, being a truly prolific rookie in the NBA is a rare thing. It’s a deep league, and only the absolute cream of the crop can breakthrough to make a truly historic impact when their feet first squeak the court. So, for everything Griffin has done this thus far, in route to an All-Star birth to boot, where does he place amongst the debuts of his peers?

There’s been some big debuts over the last 10 years, but here’s the best of the pack. Figure out where you’d place Griffin’s debut amongst this group, or if it belongs at all. I’ll add my take in the comments.

10. Pau Gasol (’01): Things didn’t go well for the Grizzlies when Vancouver was attached to their name, but the last player they selected on the way out the door to Memphis would end up being the greatest player in the franchise history. The Spanish import didn’t waste anytime making his presence felt, as he averaged 17.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and a now career-high 2.1 blocks for the lowly Grizzlies, and became the first feature player for the young team.

9. Dwyane Wade (’03): While the best was yet to come from Wade, he quickly did two very distinct things once he touched Miami. Firstly, he proved that his dominant play for Marquette in the 2003 year’s Final Four was no fluke, and secondly, that there was a lot more to his draft class than just LeBron & Carmelo, averaging 16.2 points, 4 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The Heat improved by 17 games from the season before, while Wade showed glimpses of what he would become shortly afterwards, as Finals MVP three years later.

8. Emeka Okafor (’04): Long before the Bobcats where the respectable playoff squad they are now, they had selected Okafor with their first draft pick in their history. He was the perfect player for the young club, with a polished, defense first, college game. He was the focus player on this team, and he didn’t disappoint, and at 15.1 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, had a great statistical season of his career for the worst team he would suit up with.

7. Kevin Durant (’07): When he entered the league, Durant was taken number two behind Greg Oden. The duo was being set up to take part in a long rivalry that was to be a definitive battle for the next decade. However, this never got off the ground, as KD never played second fiddle to Oden for another day in career after draft day. His immediate superior scoring touch, coupled with an Oden’s first season-preventing knee injury, ended these comparisons quickly. Durant averaged 20.3 points (which has become to be a career LOW by five points) in route to the 2008 Rookie of the Year award, and gave the soon-to-be Thunder an immediate face to their franchise.

He wasn't technically a Sonic for long, but Durant made a loud debut in Seattle before pack his bags for OKC.



6. Tyreke Evans (’09): Evans blew up for Kings across the board in a way that few had ever done during their debut, not just over the last 10 years, but over every season played in the league’s history. The young combo guard finished with marks of 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan & LeBron James as the only rookies to average 20 points, five rebounds & five assists for the season. Good company to say the least.

5. Yao Ming (’02): The expectations were through the roof for the game’s most mysterious & hyped foreign import, and Yao did not disappoint. His 13.5 point, 8.2 rebound over 82 games showcased talents that would soon make him the best offensive center in the game. He made an immediate impact for the Rockets, finishing with a 15 game improvement & a return to the Playoffs. However, more importantly, his immediate success in the NBA cued a global viewership expansion onto the other side of the globe in Yao’s native China that took the League’s exposure to another level.

Worldstar: Yao's debut was solid on the court and massive across the Pacific.


4. Dwight Howard (’04): The Magic shocked a few by selecting Howard, a relative late arrival to the top prospect scene, over Okafor, the National Player of the Year & champion who played the same position. Howard immediately quieted these questions by becoming the first high school-to-pro leap to average a double-double (12 points and 10 tens) and start in all 82 games. He also became the youngest player grab 20 rebounds in a game & average 10 for a season.

3. Chris Paul (’05): A good point guard’s impact on his team should be to make every player better around him. And if that’s the requirement, CP3 never stopped at just merely good. His overall impact was undeniable, as his averages of 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, an outstanding 2.2 steals & even snatched down five rebounds a night, while standing at a generously listed 6 feet tall. The rook ‘s presence improved the Hornets by 20 games from the season before. He won every Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for the season, and gave fan bases in both Oklahoma City and New Orleans reasons to believe in their NBA futures.

2. LeBron James (’03): Nearly every thing he has done in his career thus far he has been the youngest player to reach the milestone, and that trend started early in much-awaited rookie season. In route to becoming the youngest Rookie of the Year in league history, he averaged 20.9 points per game, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds, joining Jordan & Robertson as the only player to do this at the time. The only difference is they did this at 21 and 22, respectively. LeBron did it one year removed from high school at 18/19. The Cavs improved 18 games from just the season before, and began their most successful run in franchise history.

LBJ went #1 and snagged top rookie honors over Carmelo, but in on-court impact, Melo meant more earlier.


1. Carmelo Anthony (’03): As one half of the most heralded draft class in 20 years, the heat was on Anthony, and his play more than justified it. Also, he didn’t take home Rookie of the Year honors, as they went to LeBron, but in my estimation, his impact was greater because the Nuggets ascended further in a tougher conference with Melo suiting up. His selection immediately turned the Nuggets from laughing stocks to playoff contenders, as 2003-04 Nuggets won 24 more games than the year before, the highest turnaround of any team’s performance from a rookie debut. During his first season as a 19-year-old, he became the second youngest player to score 30 & 40 points in a game and became the first rookie to lead a playoff bound team in scoring (21 points per) since David Robinson in 1989-90.



  1. idokicks says:

    Where is D.Rose? ROY, playoffs rookie year

  2. Nice. Interesting post. Yeah Pooh would be my only other thought but I give you props for Melo at one.

  3. I definitely thought about D. Rose & he was close. But he improved them by eight games, as the Bulls had a down year the year before he came, but still had a good club intact. These guys I feel either had better years, or simply had a greater impact on the turnaround of their clubs.

  4. Diggame says:

    D. Rose has got to get some more love than this…lol! Also Danny Manning was injury ridden he really cant be a bust that much as implied from the intro

    • D. Rose probably should have got some more love, but I felt that he pushed a good team that had a down year up a slight notch (and I’m lifelong Bulls fan). That’s why I left him off, but if there was 11 guys, he’d have made it.

      Funny you bring up Danny Manning, because in the Blake Griffin express this year, it’s being forgot that he put in work for Clips back in the early 90’s. Those knees took him out from being one of the great “trapped by my team’s hell” players ever.

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