With DeJuan Blair’s impressive preseason (14.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 61.4% shooting in 18.6 minutes) fans are speculating what kind of year he might have. If you peruse the message boards you will see some people declare him a Rookie of the Year candidate or that he will average a double-double. Now, while both are those proclamations seem farfetched to me, there is no denying that Blair is a special player.
This made me wonder what Spurs had the best rookie season. I looked at each player’s traditional statistics and also their advanced statistics. I also considered what sort of impact they had on the team by looking at games played and minutes per game. So here are Project Spurs’ top five rookie seasons.
5. Alvin Robertson 1985 (9.2 pts, 3.4 rbs, 3.5 asst, 1.6 stls, 49.8% shooting, 15.3 PER) – Some people might argue for Tony Parker at this spot, and I considered him, but I think Robertson’s numbers were more impressive with the 1.6 steals and a much higher shooting percentage. The strongest argument for Parker is that he was the starter while Robertson played behind Johnny Moore. Robertson was one of the most well-rounded players in Spurs history and his rookie season displayed those talents. He also recorded a higher PER, Win Shares, and Usage Rate than Tony Parker, tipping the scale in his favor.
4. Walter Berry 1987 (15.9 pts, 4.9 rbs, 1.7 asst, 53.1% shooting, 16.8 PER) – While Berry was drafted by Portland he spent 56 games with the Spurs in his rookie season, starting 45 of them. His time with the Spurs, and the NBA in general, was short but he had an immediate impact in his rookie year. Berry was a 6’8” power forward who won the John Wooden Award while leading St. John’s to the Final Four in 1986. Berry finished second in scoring for the Spurs and recorded the highest Usage Rate. While he had a way of getting under the coaches skin, there is no denying the he was one of the Spurs best players right of the bat.
3. Willie Anderson 1989 (18.6 pts, 5.1 rbs, 4.6 asst, 1.9 stls, 49.8% shooting, 16.6 PER) – The 10th pick overall and a member of the All-NBA Rookie Team, the 6’7” shooting guard/small forward proved a success in his rookie season. He led the team in games, starts, points, and field goal attempts and was second in minutes per game and steals. He also led the team in Usage Rate and Offensive Rating. Anderson was asked to be the star player right away and he filled the spot well for a rookie. Unfortunately for Anderson his role diminished with David Robinson and Sean Elliott joining the Spurs shortly after and he never approached his performance from his rookie season again.
2. Tim Duncan 1998 (21.1 pts, 11.9 rbs, 2.7 assts, 2.5 blks, 54.9% shooting, 22.6 PER) – First, it says a lot about the number one player that Duncan comes in at number two. It’s scary to think that Duncan was able to come in as a rookie and easily average 20-10 with over two blocks and well over 50% shooting. He was the most developed rookie offensively and defensively that the league had seen in a long time. Not only was he named the ROY but he was selected to the All-Star team, All-Defensive Second Team, and All-NBA First team. He also finished fifth in MVP Award Shares. This is the stuff legends are born from.
1. David Robinson 1990 (24.3 pts, 12 rbs, 2 assts, 1.7 stls, 3.9 blks, 53.1% shooting, 26.3 PER) – Like Duncan, Robinson racked up the awards, winning the ROY, making the All-Star team, All-Defensive Second Team, All-NBA Third Team, and finishing sixth in MVP Award Shares. While his game was not as refined as Duncan’s, Robinson was a physical phenomenon that was unparalleled. He was 7-footer who could run and jump like a shooting guard, and his athleticism alone allowed him to dominate the league. People these days gush over Dwight Howard’s rebounds and blocks but Robinson was putting up the same numbers as a rookie! He was a superstar from the beginning and his rookie season is not only the best by a Spur but one of the best rookie seasons ever.
There you have it Spurs fans. Did we miss any other Spurs rookies? What are your thoughts on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili not on the list? Let us know. Please leave your comments.