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
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13) Dwight Howard

A standout at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Dwight Howard decided to forgo college and enter the NBA Draft. Selected with the first overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft, Howard was a young talent with raw potential, though he already possessed extraordinary athleticism and physical prowess. While averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game isn’t necessarily jaw-dropping, averaging a double-double as a teenager while playing arguably the most physically demanding position on the court is pretty impressive.  

It would take him a few seasons to develop into a perennial Defensive Player of the Year, but even as a rookie Dwight was a difference maker and above-average defensive anchor. He recorded at least one block in 68 of his 82 games played including 15 games with at least three blocks. He was also the driving force behind the Magic’s drastic improvement in team defense. In his first season in Orlando, the team improved to the 17th-ranked defense after finishing last in the NBA the previous year.

Although he was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, he didn’t do enough in the eyes of the voters to be named Rookie of the Year. That honor went to Emeka Okafor. Despite having nearly identical numbers across the board (excluding points per game), while leading his team to a far better record in the standings, Dwight finished in third place, receiving just six first-place votes compared to Okafor’s 77.