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NBA History: 5 greatest rookie seasons in the 21st century

Blake Griffin had an immense rookie season with the LA Clippers.
Blake Griffin had an immense rookie season with the LA Clippers.
ANALYST

Every year the NBA welcomes its newest rookie class, and each time there is immense pressure placed on the shoulders of those who come out on top in the draft.

Some struggle to find their feet in the NBA ,and take a few years to evolve into the player the team that drafted them thought they would become. For others, though, they hit the ground running, and live up to the hype of being a top-5 pick.

On that note, here's a look at the top five debut campaigns of rookies selected top 5 in their draft class since 2000:

#5 Chris Paul

Chris Paul played for the New Orleans Hornets before earning a big move to the LA Clippers.
Chris Paul played for the New Orleans Hornets before earning a big move to the LA Clippers.

After a stellar rookie campaign, Chris Paul has gone on to become one of the greatest point guards of all time in the NBA. Coming out of Wake Forest, Paul was drafted fourth overall in 2005 by the New Orleans Hornets. He helped the team go from a 18-64 record the previous campaign to 38-44.

Paul's 10.4 win shares ranks top among all rookies since 2000, with no other player averaging a statline of 15/5/5/2 in their debut campaign. He would, in fact, put up 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game as the Hornets moved up five places in the Western Conference after finishing bottom the previous season.

Although Paul shot at 43%, his second-lowest rate while playing in the NBA, he did connect with 85% of free-throws, and was a menacing defensive asset, ranking third in the league for steals.


#4 Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic in his debut season with the Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic in his debut season with the Dallas Mavericks

After winning the EuroLeague MVP award, Luka Doncic adapted to life in the NBA with aplomb in the 2018-19 season. Then a teenager, the Slovenian immediately endeared himself to Dallas Mavericks fans with his fast-paced style of play and range of shooting skills.

Doncic would go on to average 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals and six assists per game in his debut NBA campaign. Most importantly, for both him and the Mavs, he pipped Trae Young, who the Hawks had traded for with Dallas, in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting.

Although he couldn't quite help the Mavericks return to the playoffs, Doncic certainly put his name on the map as he goes into the 2021-22 NBA campaign as one of the favorites to win the MVP award.

Also check out: Latest NBA News, Rumors and Updates

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Edited by Bhargav

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