15 NBA legends who never won Rookie of the Year

The 2024 NBA Draft will hopefully feature a new generation of stars but only one can win Rookie of the Year and here are 15 NBA legends who never won the award.
Ray Allen v Kobe Bryant
Ray Allen v Kobe Bryant / -/GettyImages
15 of 15

1) Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school and, like many young players, had to adjust to the pace and physicality of the professional game. Many young fans may not know this because of the tremendous legacy the Black Mamba left behind, but Kobe wasn’t an everyday starter until his third season in the league. He averaged a modest 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game as a rookie. 

Despite playing limited minutes off the bench for much of the season, his confidence, star potential, and talent were evident. Throughout his rookie year, Kobe showed flashes of brilliance, particularly in his scoring ability and athleticism. He became the youngest player to ever start an NBA game at that time, and he participated in the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.

While his rookie statistics might not reflect his eventual Hall of Fame career, Kobe’s rookie season laid the groundwork for his development into one of the greatest players in NBA history. It may have taken him a few years to develop his body and his game but his work ethic, determination, and skill set would define his legacy over the next two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.