Rookie Debuts - Blake Griffin Dominating From the Start

This slide show from Fox Sports Net, of first overall draft picks who recorded a double-double in their first game, got me thinking.  For one thing, it's a pretty impressive list of bigs who were drafted first overall, and then put up 10 or more points and rebounds in their first NBA game - Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Derrick Coleman and David Robinson (I went back a little further than they did, back to Brad Daugherty in 86-87, the first season for which game logs are available).  You have Coleman, who was a fine pro and an All Star.  And then you have four guys who are among the best to ever play their positions in the NBA.

Looking at the stats, I noticed that while those other guys all indeed had double doubles, they mostly had more modest debuts than Blake Griffin's 20 and 14.  For instance, only Robinson scored as many as 20 points in his first NBA game.

So I wondered to myself where Blake's NBA debut ranks among those of first overall picks.  And I can safely say, it is among the best.  Only Robinson (23 points and 17 rebounds in 1987), Allen Iverson (30 points and 6 assists in 1996) and LeBron James (26 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists in 1993 2003) can be said to have had better NBA debuts from a statistical standpoint in the past 25 years.  Once again, Blake finds himself in very good company - all of those guys have been MVPs of the league.

 

Here's the data:

Name

MP

FG

FGA

 

FG%

FT

FTA

 

FT

%

Reb

A

S

B

TO

PF

P

Wall

35:16

6

19

.316

2

3

.667

1

9

3

0

3

3

14

Griffin

38:36

8

14

.571

4

6

.667

14

4

1

0

2

4

20

Rose

32:12

3

9

.333

5

7

.714

4

9

3

0

4

2

11

Oden

12:51

0

4

.000

0

2

.000

5

0

0

1

2

2

0

Bargnani

8:52

1

3

.333

0

0

.000

2

0

0

2

1

3

2

Bogut

37:05

6

9

.667

1

1

1.000

9

1

0

3

1

4

13

Howard

38:00

6

11

.545

0

6

.000

10

2

3

4

1

3

12

James

42:00

12

20

.600

1

3

.333

6

9

4

0

2

3

25

Yao

11:00

0

1

.000

0

0

.000

2

0

0

0

2

3

0

Kwame

12:00

1

2

.500

0

1

.000

3

0

0

3

1

2

2

KMart

30:00

4

16

.250

2

2

1.000

7

2

1

1

0

6

10

Brand

35:00

3

11

.273

8

10

.800

8

1

1

2

2

2

14

Kandi

22:00

5

9

.556

4

5

.800

6

0

0

1

2

4

14

Duncan

35:00

6

9

.667

3

5

.600

10

2

0

2

4

2

15

Iverson

37:00

12

19

.632

4

6

.667

2

6

1

0

3

5

30

Joe Smith

26:00

5

12

.417

4

4

1.000

3

0

1

1

0

1

14

G. Robinson

13:00

3

5

.600

2

4

.500

4

0

0

0

5

3

8

Webber

34:00

5

12

.417

5

6

.833

7

3

3

2

1

3

15

Shaq

32:00

4

8

.500

4

7

.571

18

2

1

3

8

6

12

Johnson

26:00

4

8

.500

6

6

1.000

3

2

0

2

1

4

14

Coleman

25:00

5

13

.385

1

2

.500

12

2

2

3

3

3

11

Ellison

13:00

2

4

.500

2

3

.667

1

1

0

1

1

4

6

Manning

27:00

6

10

.600

0

3

.000

4

2

0

1

2

1

12

D. Robinson

34:00

6

11

.545

11

14

.786

17

1

1

3

3

5

23

Daugherty

37:00

3

8

.375

2

3

.667

13

6

0

0

3

5

8

 

I also checked the last ten Rookies of the Year, since the first overall pick is not always the best rookie of course.  That list didn't really include any games to compare with Griffin's (James, Iverson and Robinson of course all won the ROY, and we've already discussed their debuts).

Here's the ROY NBA debut data for the last 10 years.

 

Name

MP

FG

FGA

 

FG%

FT

FTA

 

FT

%

Reb

A

S

B

TO

PF

P

Evans

34:52

5

15

.333

0

2

.000

4

2

1

0

3

5

10

Durant

31:34

7

22

.318

2

4

.500

5

1

3

1

2

3

18

Rose

32:12

3

9

.333

5

7

.714

4

9

3

0

4

2

11

Roy

35:24

10

16

.625

0

0

.000

3

2

0

0

3

3

20

Paul

33:32

3

7

.429

6

6

1.000

8

4

2

1

4

0

13

Okafor

32:00

5

9

.556

9

10

.900

10

1

0

1

0

3

19

James

42:00

12

20

.600

1

3

.333

6

9

4

0

2

3

25

Amare

20:00

3

9

.333

4

4

1.000

6

1

0

0

2

2

10

Pau

17:00

2

5

.400

0

2

.000

4

1

0

1

4

3

4

Miller

22:00

2

4

.500

0

1

.000

2

0

3

0

1

3

5

 

Of course it doesn't prove anything.  Plenty of players have had outstanding NBA debuts only to disappoint in their careers.  It was only eleven years ago that Clipper fans were drooling over Lamar Odom's 30 point, 12 rebound debut, and that didn't end up working out so well for the LAC, so we'll of course have to wait and see.

But as of now, Blake Griffin is near the head of the class with some very impressive names based on the results of his first game in the NBA.

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