The History of the Rookie of the Year Award

Ethan Miller

Identifying who wins the award, and how.

In the history of the NBA there have been 64 individual winners of the Rookie of the Year (ROY) award. There have been an additional 10 winners in the ABA. And overall there have been five different seasons where two players tied for top honors. I'm not going to delve into the snarling wilderness of the ABA, so let's just focus on the 64 winners at the NBA level. Hold onto your hats, I'm going to list them all, and the statistics they put up to get there. Please note that for the most part team wins or how far they go in the playoffs do not really factor into this award. So I'm not including them here.

# Season Player Pos Age G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
1 2012 2013 Damian Lillard 1 2 22 82 38.6 19.0 3.1 6.5 0.9 0.2
2 2011 2012 Kyrie Irving 1 2 19 51 30.5 18.5 3.7 5.4 1.1 0.4
3 2010 2011 Blake Griffin 4 21 82 38.0 22.5 12.1 3.8 0.8 0.5
4 2009 2010 Tyreke Evans 1 3 20 72 37.2 20.1 5.3 5.8 1.5 0.4
5 2008 2009 Derrick Rose 1 2 20 81 37.0 16.8 3.9 6.3 0.8 0.2
6 2007 2008 Kevin Durant 3 4 19 80 34.6 20.3 4.4 2.4 1.0 0.9
7 2006 2007 Brandon Roy 2 1 22 57 35.4 16.8 4.4 4.0 1.2 0.2
8 2005 2006 Chris Paul 1 20 78 36.0 16.1 5.1 7.8 2.2 0.1
9 2004 2005 Emeka Okafor 4 5 22 73 35.6 15.1 10.9 0.9 0.8 1.7
10 2003 2004 LeBron James 3 4 19 79 39.5 20.9 5.5 5.9 1.6 0.7
11 2002 2003 Amar'e Stoudemire 4 5 20 82 31.3 13.5 8.8 1.0 0.8 1.1
12 2001 2002 Pau Gasol 5 4 21 82 36.7 17.6 8.9 2.7 0.5 2.1
13 2000 2001 Mike Miller 2 3 20 82 29.1 11.9 4.0 1.7 0.6 0.2
14 1999 2000 Steve Francis 1 22 77 36.1 18.0 5.3 6.6 1.5 0.4
15 1999 2000 Elton Brand 4 5 20 81 37.0 20.1 10.0 1.9 0.8 1.6
16 1998 1999 Vince Carter 2 3 22 50 35.2 18.3 5.7 3.0 1.1 1.5
17 1997 1998 Tim Duncan 5 4 21 82 39.1 21.1 11.9 2.7 0.7 2.5
18 1996 1997 Allen Iverson 1 21 76 40.1 23.5 4.1 7.5 2.1 0.3
19 1995 1996 Damon Stoudamire 1 22 70 40.9 19.0 4.0 9.3 1.4 0.3
20 1994 1995 Jason Kidd 1 21 79 33.8 11.7 5.4 7.7 1.9 0.3
21 1994 1995 Grant Hill 3 2 22 70 38.3 19.9 6.4 5.0 1.8 0.9
22 1993 1994 Chris Webber 4 5 20 76 32.1 17.5 9.1 3.6 1.2 2.2
23 1992 1993 Shaquille O'Neal 5 20 81 37.9 23.4 13.9 1.9 0.7 3.5
24 1991 1992 Larry Johnson 4 3 22 82 37.2 19.2 11.0 3.6 1.0 0.6
25 1990 1991 Derrick Coleman 4 5 23 74 35.2 18.4 10.3 2.2 1.0 1.3
26 1989 1990 David Robinson 5 24 82 36.6 24.3 12.0 2.0 1.7 3.9
27 1988 1989 Mitch Richmond 2 1 23 79 34.4 22.0 5.9 4.2 1.0 0.2
28 1987 1988 Mark Jackson 1 22 82 39.6 13.6 4.8 10.6 2.5 0.1
29 1986 1987 Chuck Person 3 4 22 82 36.0 18.8 8.3 3.6 1.1 0.2
30 1985 1986 Patrick Ewing 5 23 50 35.4 20.0 9.0 2.0 1.1 2.1
31 1984 1985 Michael Jordan 2 3 21 82 38.3 28.2 6.5 5.9 2.4 0.8
32 1983 1984 Ralph Sampson 5 23 82 32.8 21.0 11.1 2.0 0.9 2.4
33 1982 1983 Terry Cummings 4 5 21 70 36.2 23.7 10.6 2.5 1.8 0.9
34 1981 1982 Buck Williams 4 21 82 34.5 15.5 12.3 1.3 1.0 1.0
35 1980 1981 Darrell Griffith 2 22 81 35.4 20.6 3.6 2.4 1.3 0.5
36 1979 1980 Larry Bird 3 4 23 82 36.0 21.3 10.4 4.5 1.7 0.6
37 1978 1979 Phil Ford 1 22 79 34.5 15.9 2.3 8.6 2.2 0.1
38 1977 1978 Walter Davis 2 3 23 81 32.0 24.2 6.0 3.4 1.4 0.2
39 1976 1977 Adrian Dantley 3 20 77 36.6 20.3 7.6 1.9 1.2 0.2
40 1975 1976 Alvan Adams 5 4 21 80 33.2 19.0 9.1 5.6 1.5 1.5
41 1974 1975 Jamaal Wilkes 3 4 21 82 30.7 14.2 8.2 2.2 1.3 0.3
42 1973 1974 Ernie DiGregorio 1 23 81 35.9 15.2 2.7 8.2 0.7 0.1
43 1972 1973 Bob McAdoo 5 4 21 80 32.0 18.0 9.1 1.7
44 1971 1972 Sidney Wicks 4 22 82 32.0 24.5 11.5 4.3
45 1970 1971 Dave Cowens 4 5 22 81 39.6 17.0 15.0 2.8
46 1970 1971 Geoff Petrie 2 1 22 82 38.0 24.8 3.4 4.8
47 1969 1970 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 5 22 82 37.0 28.8 14.5 5.1
48 1968 1969 Wes Unseld 5 22 82 43.1 18.2 18.2 2.6
49 1967 1968 Earl Monroe 2 1 23 82 36.2 24.3 5.7 4.3
50 1966 1967 Dave Bing 1 2 23 80 36.7 20.0 4.5 4.1
51 1965 1966 Rick Barry 3 2 21 80 34.5 25.7 10.6 2.2
52 1964 1965 Willis Reed 5 4 22 80 37.4 19.5 14.7 1.7
53 1963 1964 Jerry Lucas 4 23 79 38.0 17.7 17.4 2.6
54 1962 1963 Terry Dischinger 3 2 22 57 41.4 25.5 8.0 3.1
55 1961 1962 Walt Bellamy 5 22 79 42.3 31.6 19.0 2.7
56 1960 1961 Oscar Robertson 1 2 22 71 42.7 30.5 10.1 9.7
57 1959 1960 Wilt Chamberlain 5 23 72 46.4 37.6 27.0 2.3
58 1958 1959 Elgin Baylor 3 4 24 70 40.8 24.9 15.0 4.1
59 1957 1958 Woody Sauldsberry 4 23 71 33.5 12.8 10.3 0.8
60 1956 1957 Tom Heinsohn 4 22 72 29.9 16.2 9.8 1.6
61 1955 1956 Maurice Stokes 5 4 22 67 34.7 16.8 16.3 4.9
62 1954 1955 Bob Pettit 4 5 22 72 36.9 20.4 13.8 3.2
63 1953 1954 Ray Felix 5 23 72 37.1 17.6 13.3 1.1
64 1952 1953 Monk Meineke 4 22 68 33.1 10.7 6.9 2.2

Okay, that's a lot of numbers and colors and players to deal with. I got it out in the open first to scare people off. I'm going to break this all down into more manageable chunks now. (N.B. 1994-2013 has an n=21 value because of the tie between two players for ROY)

Season Player Pos Age G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
1952 2013 n=64 All 21.7 76.2 36.3 20.0 9.1 3.9 1.3 0.9
1985 2013 n=30 All 21.2 75.1 36.1 18.6 7.2 4.4 1.2 1.0
1994 2013 n=21 All 20.8 74.6 36.2 18.1 6.3 4.7 1.2 0.8
2003 2013 n=10 All 20.4 73.5 36.2 18.6 5.8 4.9 1.2 0.5

Okay, so what do we know?

  • In the history of the ROY award (n=64), the player who wins it is on average 21.7 years old, played in 76.2 games, and at the rate of 36.2 mpg
  • During that stretch they have averaged nearly a double-double in points and rebounds: 20.0 ppg, and 9.1 rpg. No doubt this data sample is corrupted by the award winner in the first 25 years of the league almost always being a power forward or a center -- and guys like Wilt who averaged 37.6 ppg and 27.0 rpg as a rookie are just impossible.
  • These rooks also dished it out about 4 times a game, and added a block and a steal.
  • I think that these n=64 numbers don't help much because of all the rule changes, emphasis changes, and player changes. It's a different league. So let's look at the progression of ROY winners.
  • When comparing the last 30, 20, and 10 year averages we see that the winner has become younger and younger. Furthermore, the player has played in fewer minutes per game, and played in fewer total games.
  • While the points have taken a dip, the larger trend is seeing the near elimination of blocked shots in ROY winners in favor of more guard oriented skills and talents. The players assist more and rebound less. It's no surprise as the last 10 years we've only seen 2 players win ROY who didn't have immediate guard skills: Griffin and Okafor
  • It's a guard's league more than ever, and this is reflected in the people who win ROY
  • Six of the last 10 winners were point guards
  • The current era (n=10) average is a player who averages 18.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.2 spg, and 0.5 bpg
  • If you are playing the averages here it appears that scoring is the most important metric, and being capable in three of the next four categories helps
  • The 20/5/5/1 statline screams modern era wing player, despite points guards getting it done
  • Perhaps this is because the modern era point guard plays like a wing with a higher USG%/AST%/TOV%? (And less like a traditional PG?)

So if you picked a wing player to win ROY this year, history and recent rends have your back.

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SLC Dunk

You must be a member of SLC Dunk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SLC Dunk. You should read them.

Join SLC Dunk

You must be a member of SLC Dunk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SLC Dunk. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker