It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, we see something that feels impossible. In the NBA, sometimes the impossible is a rookie completely overperforming their expectations. This leads us to one of our biggest questions, has any rookie in the NBA ever made it onto the All-Star team as a rookie?
Has Anyone Been an All-Star as a Rookie? The answer to this question is actually pretty short, there have been exactly 45 rookies to ever make it onto the All-Star team. It’s been a pretty long time since it last happened, and the only frequent one that comes to mind is Blake Griffin back in 2011. This was when he was still a member of the Los Angeles Clippers of course.
As we dive in deeper about Blake Griffin’s historic rookie season, we will also be taking a look at other rookies who have accomplished such a feat. These players entered the league incredibly polished, and weren’t ever afraid of how their game would transition to the big leagues. This is likely the reason for their immense success.
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Last Rookie to Accomplish This
Without any doubt, Blake Griffin’s rookie season was one for the record books. He was the last player in the league to make it into the All-Star game as a rookie. The fact that it happened about a decade ago shows how hard this feat is for a rookie to accomplish. Griffin was actually drafted in the 2009 offseason. However, he had a major injury that kept him off the court the entire season and didn’t play until 2010. In the NBA, it is defined that you are only a rookie if you play a certain minimum number of games in your first season.
Due to Blake not playing any in his official rookie year, he was still up for awards despite being drafted two years ago. During this season, Blake averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He also shot over 50 percent from the floor. The power forward was completely dominating the game this season and helped build a tough culture for the Los Angeles Clippers organization. The voters ultimately decided that his ridiculous season was too good to ignore and got him into the All-Star game in his first official season in the league. Plus, his stats were so insane that some people even voted for him in the MVP race at the end of the season. Griffin was that good.
Best Rookie All-Star Ever?
Out of the 45 players that have made it onto the All-Star team as a rookie, which of them had the best inaugural season in the league? That answer is actually pretty easy, it’s Wilt Chamberlain. The seven-foot center played in 72 games during his rookie season. He was able to average 37.6 points, 27 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game on 46 percent shooting from the floor. Nobody was able to even slow him down during this span.
There hasn’t been any other player in the league for decades who has put up averages even remotely close to Wilt’s numbers in just his rookie year. Obviously, he got quickly voted into the All-Star game and even won the Most Valuable Player award at the same time. Only a few other players in the history of the sport can say that they have been able to do that. Here is a little side fact for you as well, Wilt considered retirement at the end of his rookie year. Despite all the ridiculous success that he had; he was clearly being targeted by opposing teams because they knew how good he was. Chamberlain told the media that he was considering retirement due to the number of hard fouls that he was receiving each and every game.
Other Notable Players to Make the All-Star Team
Now that we covered two of the best players to make it into this game, let’s talk about some of the other rookies that accomplished such a feat. In terms of familiarity, guys like Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal were able to do it. These were all the most recent players to get this done, outside Griffin of course. Other phenomenal players like Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing made it easily, just like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
There are some other names that may surprise you though, as not all the rookies that made the All-Star game turned out to be superstar caliber players that changed the landscape of the league. Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Alvan Adams, Frank Selvy and Ray Felix were all able to do this. These are just a handful of the 45 players and I am sure that there are going to be a couple more rookies making it into the All-Star game in the next couple of years as well. Had Zion Williamson been able to play a fully healthy season in his first year, he without a doubt would have been able to make the team considering he averaged 27 points in his first full season.
What Rookie Had an Incredible Performance in the All-Star Game?
Not only is it hard to get into the All-Star game, but it’s really difficult to get minutes. These respected coaches usually don’t like giving tons of minutes to rookies in a game like this, but others do. In this particular case, the coach realized the flamethrower of a shooter he had on his bench so he rode it to victory. The player was Rick Barry. The guy was a rookie out of the University of Miami and had stayed in college until his senior season.
He had a lot of experience under his belt and wasn’t scared about the transition. He made it onto the All-Star team in his first year and absolutely lit up the stadium for 36 points in his first All-Star game. Other players like Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain were playing in that game, and Barry still managed to score 36.