Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan all won NBA MVP trophies relatively early in their careers, but not in their rookie years. Coming into the NBA the same year as Bird, Magic didn’t even win Rookie of the Year. (He did win a championship as a rookie, and an NBA Finals MVP Award.) In fact only two rookies in NBA history have won the NBA MVP Award — the great centers Wes Unseld (1968-69) and Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60). But the 2017-18 NBA season plans to challenge that status quo, and potentially add a name to the list and make it three. Who’s in the running for a dual NBA Rookie of the Year/NBA MVP Award this season?
Each of them is obviously a longshot to win both, and any of the following names would be happy to walk away with the Rookie of the Year trophy alone. (Lonzo Ball’s father might not be satisfied, but Lonzo will presumably take it, knowing Michael Jordan began that way.) Here’s the list of four plausible NBA Rookie of the Year/NBA MVP candidates this season:
- Markelle Fultz (76ers)
- Ben Simmons (76ers)
- Dennis Smith, Jr. (Mavericks)
- Lonzo Ball (Lakers)