While we had to wait a bit for him to make his debut, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson has already taken the league by storm.
He is currently averaging 23.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 57.3 percent from the field for the Pelicans. The only rookie who had ever put up 23 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent or better from the field, per Action Network, was Shaquille O’Neal.
When adjusting per second on the court, after the game against the Lakers, Williamson is now averaging 29.5 points per 36 minutes. For comparison, though a smaller sample size, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic put up 23.7 points per 36 during his first NBA season last year.
In fact, while he has only played 13 games during the regular season for the Pelicans, that mark currently ranks as the best among any NBA rookie of all-time. To put his season into perspective, we’ve included some of the other top-scoring campaigns (per 36 minutes) in league history.
All statistics are pulled from Basketball-Reference and are accurate as of February 25, 2020.
WILT CHAMBERLAIN (1959-60): 29.2 points
The big man led the NBA in scoring each year for seven consecutive seasons… including his rookie year. Chamberlain was also an 11-time rebounding champion during his professional career.
JOEL EMBIID (2016-17): 28.7 points
Embiid, who was drafted No. 3 overall in 2014, was not able to play during his first two professional seasons due to a myriad of injury concerns. While the big man only averaged 25.4 minutes over 31 games during his first active campaign, he still managed to make the All-Rookie team.
WALTER DAVIS (1977-78): 27.2 points
North Carolina star wing Walter Davis, who was selected No. 5 overall by the Phoenix Suns, was named the Rookie of the Year in 1978. He played a decade for the franchise and was named to six All-Star teams during his time with the team.
WALT BELLAMY (1961-62): 26.9 points
The big man was the starting center for the United States basketball team in the 1960 Olympics. The team went on to win gold and he was then picked No. 1 overall by the Chicago Packers. He was also named Rookie of the Year in 1962.
MICHAEL JORDAN (1984-85): 26.5 points
There are a million things to say about Michael Jordan but one of the first things worth mentioning is how dominant he was out of the gate. He put up 28.2 points per game, shooting 51.5 percent from the field. Jordan became the leading scorer in the NBA by his third season and was a 10-time scoring champion.
OSCAR ROBERTSON (1960-61): 25.7 points
MVP and NBA champion Oscar Robertson was the first pick in the draft and then named Rookie of the Year for the Cincinnati Royals. He ranks Top 10 in career points per game, averaging 25.7 points over the course of his 14 seasons.
RICKY BARRY (1965-66): 24.8 points
Rick Barry, who was the second pick in the 1965 draft for the San Francisco Warriors, was named Rookie of the Year. Then by the following year, he was the league’s leading scorer.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR (1969-70): 24.1 points
The big man, then Lew Alcindor, was the No. 1 overall pick and then won Rookie of the Year for the Milwaukee Bucks. The superstar led the league in scoring during his second and third professional seasons.
GEOFF PETRIE (1970-71): 24.1 points
Combo guard Geoff Petrie, who was selected at No. 8 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, was named co-Rookie of the Year with Dave Cowens in 1971. It was one of just three times in league history that players shared the award.
DAVID ROBINSON (1989-90): 23.9 points
Two-time NBA champion and former MVP David Robinson is one of just five players (Ralph Sampson, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard and Karl-Anthony Towns) to ever win NBA Rookie of the Year with a unanimous decision.
EARL MONROE (1967-68): 23.8 points
The longtime point guard was picked second overall by the Baltimore Bullets in 1967. He was a remarkable scorer even in the beginning, scoring 56 points against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was one of six games he put up at least 40 points during his first professional season, eventually winning Rookie of the Year.
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