NBA: Top 10 Rookie All-Stars since 1980
Being named to the NBA All-Star team is one of the highest individual honors a player can receive over the course of the regular season. It is a prestige to be named to the team and is something that every player would set out to accomplish at the start of the season. With the league being so competitive and new stars emerging year on year, it is tough to pick the best players from each conference without any controversy.
Many players in past have questioned the process in which the All-Stars are picked. Last year we saw Damian Lillard, who was quite outspoken about how he felt about his exclusion from the game. This year it was rookie Ben Simmons who felt he deserved a place on either two star-studded lineups. Simmons may have a point. He's had a fantastic season and is most likely to win the Rookie of the Year award.
If Simmons was picked as an All-Star, he would have been the forty-sixth rookie to play the most glamorous game of the regular season. The first was Bob Cousy back in 1951 and the most recent pick was Blake Griffin back in 2011.
Although there have been forty-five rookies to play the All-Star game, there have only been sixteen since 1980. This is due to the vast improvement in talent in the NBA and the level of competitiveness that has increased throughout the league as the sport has matured and grown globally.
Due to these factors, I have not included players that were named Rookie All-Stars before 1980. Here are some of the names that fall into that category. Remember that this takes absolutely nothing away from them and most of these players would almost certainly have achieved the same in any era, it is just tough to leave out other names due to the competitiveness of the league and the probability of becoming an All-Star being much lesser through the years of the game's evolution.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Cousy, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petit, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Rick Barry and Oscar Robertson were all named All-Stars in their Rookie season.
Now let's take a look at the top ten Rookie All-Stars of the modern era. This list was made based on how good players were as rookies along with the impact they made on their team.
#10 Blake Griffin - LA Clippers (2011)
Rookie Stats:- 22.5 PPG, 12.1 RPG
Career Stats (so far):- 21.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG
Back in 2011, the league was taken by storm. Blake Griffin was an athletic freak of nature and when he was finally fit to play, he instantly made the Clippers must-see TV. He led the rookies in both points and rebounds. He won the Rookie of the Year award and the Slam Dunk competition as well. But the most impressive statistic for Griffin that season was that he had twenty-seven consecutive double-doubles. This was the most a rookie had managed since Elvin Hayes back in 1968.
Although the Clippers had a very mediocre season and only won thirty-two games, Griffin's individual performances made him the first rookie All-Star since Yao Ming in 2003.
Griffin has made four All-Star appearances since his rookie season and made the All-NBA second team thrice. He along with Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan made the Clippers a formidable task to beat for the following years but unfortunately was not able to get beyond the second round of the playoffs.