Few players enter the league and dominate from the start, but the handful that do leave lasting impressions. Take, for example, Blake Griffin, who led all rookies in points (22.5 per game) and rebounds (12.1), while also stringing together the longest rookie double-double streak since 1968 and winning the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. Even more impressive, Griffin made Clippers games must-see TV with his highlight dunks and miraculous alley-oops. But Griffin isn't the only rookie to have taken the league by storm. Here's a look at some of the NBA's greatest rookies of all time in reverse chronological order.
2 of 15John Biever/SI
One of the most-hyped rookies in NBA history, LeBron James impressed from the start. After several of his high school games were aired on national television, LeBron stepped into the NBA limelight seamlessly. He became the youngest player in history to win Rookie of the Year and is also the youngest to have scored 40 points in a game. He's also one of four players in history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in his first season.
3 of 15Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Tim Duncan beat out Keith Van Horn to be the No. 1 pick in the 1997 Draft and didn't disappoint the Spurs, who paired him alongisde David Robinson. The Wake Forest product averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks his rookie year and led the Spurs to a 53-29 record.
4 of 15Manny Millan/SI
Shaq came out of LSU as one of the most dominant players in college history and soon showed he'd have his way with the NBA, as well. With a rare combination of power and athleticism, O'Neal put up 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game his rookie season, with the latter two marking career highs for the future Hall of Famer.
5 of 15Focus On Sport/Getty Images
The Spurs had to wait two years for Robinson to finish up his Naval commitment, but the big man was well worth the wait. The Admiral averaged 24.3 points, 12 rebounds and 3.9 blocks his rookie season, unanimously winning the league's Rookie of the Year award. He also helped the Spurs go from a 21-61 record the year before to a 56-26 mark his rookie year.
6 of 15Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Jordan didn't win his first NBA championship until 1991, but his play from the start showed he was destined for big things. MJ averaged 28.2 points per game his rookie season while shooting an impressive 51.5 percent from the field. He was voted a starter to the All-Star team and would go on to win Rookie of the Year along with a few other trophies later in his career.
7 of 15Focus On Sport/Getty Images
After the Celtics drafted Bird sixth overall in 1978, the sharpshooter went back to Indiana State for his senior year. But once Bird arrived in Boston in '79, things would never be the same in Beantown. The C's won 60 games Bird's first year, with the rook averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists while being named to the All-NBA first team. He also won Rookie of the Year and would guide the Celtics to an NBA championship in his second season.
8 of 15Manny Millan/SI
Bird won Rookie of the Year, but Magic took the top prize of all in 1980 -- the NBA championship. As a rookie, Magic started at center in place of the injured Kareem-Abdul Jabbar in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and poured in 42 points and 15 rebounds against the Sixers. The Lakers won the title and Magic was named Finals MVP. Prior to that, Magic averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game during the regular season.
9 of 15Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Then known as Lew Alcindor, Abdul-Jabbar dominated from day one with the Bucks after a legendary career at UCLA. The big man scored 28.8 points and pulled down 14.5 rebounds per game his first season and even added 4.1 assists to boot. His presence -- and patented skyhook -- helped the Bucks go from 27-55 the year before to a 56-26 campaign his rookie season.
10 of 15NBAe/Getty Images
Wes Unseld became the second player in history to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player award in the same season. The center averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds his first year in the league.
11 of 15Vernon Biever/Getty Images
Unseld overshadowed Hayes his first year, but the Rockets rookie meanwhile turned in one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time. Hayes played an incredible 45.1 minutes per game and averaged 28.4 points and 17.1 rebounds, first and fourth most by an NBA rookie respectively.
12 of 15Dick Raphael/SI
After the Packers selected him No. 1 overall out of Indiana, Bellamy wreaked havoc on opposing front lines. The center averaged 31.6 points, the second-most by a rookie in history, and 19 rebounds, the third-most by a first-year player.
13 of 15Focus On Sport/Getty Images
The "Big O" famously averaged a triple-double his second year in the league, but the revolutionary point guard came just short during his rookie campaign, putting up 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per night.
14 of 15George Silk/Time & Life Pictures
Arguably the greatest rookie in history, Chamberlain played one season for the Harlem Globetrotters before joining the Warriors in 1959. All he did was win Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and average an NBA-rookie record of 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game. His rebounding total is the second highest average by any player in history, eclipsed only by Chamberlain's 27.2 mark the next season.
15 of 15George Long/SI
Often overlooked amongst Laker greats, Baylor's numbers were astronomical his first season in the league and for many years after. The Minneapolis forward averaged 24.9 points and 15 rebounds per game while being named to his first of seven consecutive All-NBA first team selections.
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