Rookie of the Year is a strange award in the NBA because of the wild cast of characters that end up winning the award over time. No other award illustrates just how quickly the league can move or how quickly players can become an afterthought.
For every year that you get a LeBron James winning the award there is a corresponding year that Emeka Okafor takes home the trophy. It’s happened for as long as the award has been in existence and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Winning such an accolade early in your career can either propel a player to greater heights and it can also attach a heavy burden for players who have runs of bad luck.
Of the most recent recipients, here are the three former rookie sensations have the most to prove this year:
MCW was selected for this award out of the heavily imbalanced class of 2013. We all remember the headscratching selection of Anthony Bennett. But, there are other weird notes and miscast roles up and down this particular draft board.
It was easy for the young guard from Syracuse to rack up stats on a horrendous team, but could he contribute to a winner? He has been a bit uneven as a Milwaukee Buck after being traded in 2015. His shooting in particular needs improvement.
The Bucks have the pieces to make the playoffs in the East and will need the most out of their point guard to get it done.
When Reke completed his rookie season in Sacramento he looked like a bonafide NBA star in the making. He was one of four players to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season.
The only other three players to do that were LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson. Things didn’t go as swimmingly from there as the shooting guard had to deal with the trials associated with the Kings club.
But, he signed in New Orleans in 2013 looking for a change.
He is currently rehabbing a left knee injury, but he should be back before Jrue Holiday returns from his family issues. That would leave the 26-year-old as the starting point guard during the former All-Star’s absence.
Can he help Anthony Davis keep the franchise afloat until help arrives? If so, they will be challenging for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Poster Child was absolute appointment viewing during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Clippers. The ClipShow wasn’t very good that year, but it really didn’t matter. He was an All-Star, a Slam Dunk Champion and Rookie of the Year in 2011.
Griffin was a double-double machine in his rookie season and not much has changed as his career has progressed. He shoots more jumpers now and is better at converting those opportunities.
Let’s not forget, he will still dunk on defenders with unbelievable ferocity if given the chance.
As his free agency looms after a season lost to injuries, he needs to have a great year to validate himself again in the eyes of fans around the league.