NBA Rookie of the Year winners of this decade: Where are they now?
Quite exiting to watch eh? We always love to see if they were worth their draft pick, if they can transfer their talent from college or overseas to the pro's.
This year draft class appears to be very deep, and very interesting. More so than before a lot of rookies are making bigger impacts on teams. Because of this the race has thickened considerably, with Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Grizzlies star O.J Mayo leading the way. But instead of merely picking out my favorite or ranking this season’s prospective, I've decided to look a bit more at the award itself. The rookie of the year trophy- the Eddie Gottlieb trophy named after the 1946-47 NBA Championship winning Philadelphia Warriors team.
How are the previous winners of the award faring? Let us look back at this decade's Rookie of the Year winners, and see how they are doing in the NBA now.
This is the second part of the article, where we will be looking at the last five winners of the trophy.
2003-2004 : LeBron James
ever heard of this guy?
Back then: LeBron was probably the most hyped player ever coming into the draft. It was unheard of. There were other stars in the draft, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade, who had unbelievable seasons in college, who in other years would have been the talk of the draft...but not this year.
James finished the year averaging 20 points a game, along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Where are they now?
Like you don't know, LeBron has exploded to become the face of the league, is the leading candidate for the M.V.P so far, lead the league in scoring for most of the season so far and has improved every aspect of his game every year.
This year, it's been his free-throw shooting and individual defense.
Since winning the R.O.Y, LeBron has been a four time all-star, winning the MVP of the game twice. Been an NBA scoring champion, made the NBA's first and Second teams won a gold Olympic medal, provided countless highlights and smashed almost every record he can in one way or another.
2004-2005: Emeka Okafor
Back Then: Emeka was a star at Uconn, leading them to a national championship and being named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, as well as the defensive player of the year. He was a true beast in college.
Emeka was selected second overall by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats, becoming the team's first ever pick. He finished the year with averages of 15 points per game along with over 10 rebounds.
Where are they now:
Emeka is still with the Bobcats, and is still a major piece to their puzzle, but has still not found his potential, at least on the offensive end. Though, in all likelihood he was never going to get noticed while playing on such awful teams. He had a very tough sophomore season that was complete with injury, his highest scoring season was as a rookie. Emeka has still not even sniffed the playoffs.
Since winning the R.O.Y, Emeka has been mired on the still awful Bobcats. Though he has improved, he has still not found his true niche, and hasn't made an all-star game.
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2005-2006 : Chris Paul
Back Then: Almost no-one could believe that the Wake Forest standout dropped down to the fourth spot in the 2005 draft, especially when a little-known Australian big man Andrew Bogut took the top spot. Paul was a lone standout in a less than inspiring draft class (so far he is the only one to be named an all-star, though in all fairness Deron Williams should have been), he was a sign of hope for the Hornets, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and instantly became a symbol in the NBA.
He finished his inaugural year averaging 16 ppg, 7.8 apg and 5.1 rpg, he was also named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for every month in that season.
Where are they now:
Chris has exploded into easily one of the top 5 players in the NBA both in skill and popularity, though he had to suffer through a sophomore year where he was limited to 64 games, last year he truly broke into his own, finishing second in the M.V.P voting and making the Hornets a true contender to the title.
He is only in his 4th year but already he is looking like one of the best Point Guards to ever play the game. He is not only a great player but a great person, helping his own city of New Orleans through the tough times. I really can't translate how good this guy is and what a joy he is to watch.
Since winning the R.O.Y, Chris has lead the league in assists and steals, broke records, made the All-NBA first-team and won an Olympic Gold medal.
2006-2007: Brandon Roy
Back Then: Much like Chris Paul, Brandon was the subject of a strange draft, where he himself slipped to the 6th spot behind a first overall pick named Andrea Bargnani, and other 'standouts' Adam Morrison or Shelden Williams.
He was chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who immediately traded him to Portland (clever eh?). Again like Paul, he was a runaway for the award and so far is the only all-star from the draft, he finished his year averaging nearly 17 points a game despite missing nearly 20 games early in the year.
Where are they now:
Brandon has quickly matured into a leader and the face of the Trailblazers, he is already a star and one of the biggest threats in the league, punctuated recently by his 52-point game. He has improved incredibly rapidly and has helped Portland to being an up-and-coming team, now looking definite to reach the playoffs.
Since winning the R.O.Y, Brandon has been an all-star and one of the bigger stars in the League.
2007-2008: Kevin Durant
Back Then: Kevin was part of the biggest draft debates in recent memory when it became obvious the Portland Trailblazers would pick either Kevin or Greg Oden with their first pick. Kevin had a monumental freshman season at Texas, and though went through controversy surrounding his inability to bench high weights or his skinny frame, was undoubtedly an offensive force slightly different to what had been seen before.
Though he ended up going second to the Seattle Supersonics, Kevin still had a dominant rookie season, with only Al Horford coming anywhere near to challenging him for the rookie trophy. Seattle were awful for the season, with Kevin being the only bright spark. Though he percentages were not good, even for a rookie, Kevin still managed to average over 20 a game, the most for a rookie since LeBron.
Where are they now:
Kevin still belongs to the worst team in the league (in fact they are almost setting records), though they now reside in Oklahoma and have the worst team name ever, but Kevin has already taken on a leadership role and become the face of the franchise.
He has already started to improve his all-around game and there is no doubt the Thunder would finish the year at something like 2-80 if Durant wasn't around.
By Joe Buckley
Pro-Basketball Fans staff-writer
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