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5 most disappointing NBA Rookie of the Year winners in the 21st century

Andrew Wiggins (#22) of the Golden State Warriors (GSW)
Andrew Wiggins (#22) of the Golden State Warriors (GSW)
ANALYST
Modified 30 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

The NBA Rookie of the Year award is given every year to the most exciting prospect in an NBA season. However, some of the recipients of the award over the years did not reach the heights expected of them.

Several factors can lead to a decline in a rookie's performance in subsequent seasons. The player getting overwhelmed with the demands of the NBA, frequent injuries or a failure to improve their game, to name a few, are some of the common reasons.

Five most disappointing NBA Rookie of the Year award winners in the 21st century

Although players merit the award by producing dazzling performances in their debut season in the NBA, most fail to build on that for a plethora of reasons.

On that note, let's take a look at five such players who failed to follow up their sizzling exploits in their debut NBA campaigns.

#1 Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans of the Indiana Pacers
Tyreke Evans of the Indiana Pacers

Tyreke Evans joined the Memphis Tigers in 2008 to play college ball. He led his team to the NCAA tournament despite struggling with the new role he was given. Nevertheless, he won the Conference Rookie of the Week eight times before deciding to forfeit the remainder of his college career, as he felt he was ready for the NBA.

The Sacramento Kings scooped up Evans with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Not long after his introduction to the NBA, he won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November 2009.

Evans ended his rookie season with 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Those numbers made him the fourth rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in a season.

He won the NBA Rookie of the Year award over Stephen Curry, who averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

However, things started to go downhill for Evans in subsequent seasons, as he could not replicate his rookie season performances. Providing only glimpses of his prowess, he could not equal or exceed his 20.1-point average set in his rookie season in any of his subsequent editions of the NBA.

The player is currently serving a ban by the NBA for an Anti-Drug Program term violation. Before his ban in May 2019, he averaged 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.


#2 Emeka Okafor

Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor

Chukwuemeka Okafor played for the University of Connecticut from 2001 to 2004. He completed his college degree in finance and graduated with honors. He was well known for his defensive prowess, leading his team to their second national title in six seasons.

Okafor declared his eligibility for the 2004 NBA draft and was favored to be the no. 1 overall pick. However, the Orlando Magic selected Dwight Howard, leaving Okafor available for the Charlotte Bobcats (now called the Charlotte Hornets).

Coming into the NBA, Okafor looked like he was going to be a star. His numbers in his rookie season were some of the best in NBA history. He ended the season with 15.1 points, 1.7 blocks and 10.9 rebounds per game, recording 19 straight double-doubles from November 21, 2004, to January 1, 2005.

The big man was on cue to be the next Hakeem Olajuwon or Shaquille O'Neal but could not put together a consistent run.

Even as he continued dominating the glass at both ends of the court, Okafor was unable to average 15.1 points per game throughout his nine-season stint in the NBA.

In his final season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Okafor recorded 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds before he was waived off by the franchise.


#3 Michael Carter-Williams

Houston Rockets Media Day
Houston Rockets Media Day

Michael Carter-Williams was selected with the 11th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 NBA draft. The rookie had a sensational debut, recording a double-double and the most steals (9) by a rookie in his first game. In only his first week of action, Williams was named the Player of the Week.

It was a bright start to the season that saw several record-breaking performances from the point guard. He ended the season with 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

But like Okafor and Evans, Carter-Williams could not replicate his rookie season exploits. In his last five seasons, the guard has only managed a single-digit point average.

He is currently on the Orlando Magic roster, averaging 8.8 points per game with a 38.9 field goal percentage.


#4 Mike Miller

Mike Miller
Mike Miller

Mike Miller played college football with the University of Florida, with his standout feature being his three-point shooting. He was selected by the Orlando Magic with the fifth pick in the 2000 NBA draft.

Miller showed right off the bat that he could handle the pressure that came with playing in the NBA. He featured in all 82 regular-season games in the 2000-01 NBA season, recording 11.9 points while shooting 40% from beyond the arc.

Unlike other rookies in the list, Miller improved on his rookie numbers in subsequent seasons. Although his performances were nothing close to spectacular, he always put in a decent shift on the court.

However, Miller remained an average player and started to decline after he turned 30. Miller did not average double figures from 2010 till his retirement in 2017.


#5 Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins (#22) of the Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins (#22) of the Golden State Warriors

Andrew Wiggins started his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded a few months later to the Timberwolves. He was one of the most exciting prospects in recent years.

Although Wiggins' case is not as dire, the forward has failed to be as explosive as most anticipated him to be. He made a statement in his debut NBA season, averaging 16.9 points, which helped him win the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

However, it's been nothing close to a superstar performance from him since then. The forward has failed to make NBA All-Star appearances and has not done anything of note since his rookie year.

He is now rated as an average player, tallying 17.9 points per game and a 0.469 field goal percentage.

Published 30 Apr 2021
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