Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins has been even better in his second season, after earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2014-15.
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He’s not alone in showing significant improvement in year two among past honorees.
Eleven of the past 15 Rookie of the Year winners have increased their scoring average in their second seasons. Ten have gone on to become All-Stars at some point in their careers, five have become first-team all-NBA players and two have been named MVP.
While most needed a few seasons to maximize their potential, stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul improved on impressive rookie seasons with All-Star worthy sophomore campaigns. Here is a look at how the past six Rookie of the Year winners have fared in season two:
2014-15 winner: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Recap: Wiggins has been better statistically in almost every category, leading the Timberwolves in scoring in double digits in all but five games. The 21-year-old has stepped up big against the best opponents, scoring 32 in last week’s win over Golden State and 23 in the win over Portland. He’s shown an improved ability to drive to the net this season and draw fouls. His 3-point shooting still needs to improve, but he has become a guy who could put up potential All-Star numbers in future years.
2013-14 winner: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers
Recap: Carter-Williams put up gaudy numbers playing for a 19-63 Philadelphia team as a rookie, and couldn’t replicate them in year two. The 76ers traded him to Milwaukee midway through his second season, and his numbers have declined each of the past two years. He may never be an All-Star, but he could be a solid backup point guard for the Bucks.
Recap: Lillard has become a star in his four years in the league, earning two All-Star appearances and a snub this season. He’s averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game in 2015, leading the LaMarcus Aldridge-less Trail Blazers to another playoff berth. His star will only rise as he reaches his late 20s.
2011-12 winner: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Recap: Irving has been an All-Star in three of his five seasons, though he wasn’t selected this season. His scoring average this season is down to 19.3 points per game, slightly below his career average of 20.7. His defensive rating has also slipped in each of the past five years. While he’s still an All-Star and only 24 years old, perhaps he isn’t the potential MVP candidates that many envisioned he could be.
2010-11 winner: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Recap: The advanced stats show that Griffin has been one of the most dominant players in the league since his rookie year. His career player efficiency rating is 22.8, well above the league average of 15. His team has made the playoffs every year since his rookie year, and Griffin has been a key part of that success.
2009-10 winner: Tyreke Evans
Recap: Evans saw his numbers dip across the board in his second season on a team that featured another strong rookie in DeMarcus Cousins. He’s averaged between 14.5 and 16.5 points per game in the five ensuing seasons, the past three of them with the Pelicans. He may never be an All-Star, but he’s certainly a top-15 point guard in the NBA.