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
9 of 15

7) Yao Ming

Yao Ming's rookie season was highly anticipated, as he entered the NBA with considerable fanfare due to his tremendous size (7 feet 6 inches), skill set, and success in the Chinese Basketball Association and with the Chinese national team. Unlike many other international players, he quickly adapted to the NBA game and became a key player for the Houston Rockets. 

Throughout his rookie year, Yao demonstrated his scoring ability in the post, rebounding prowess, and shot-blocking skills. He led all rookies in blocks per game, ranked second in rebounds per game, and tied with Amar’e Stoudemire for second in points per game among all rookies. His impact was significant both on the court and off, as he helped grow the NBA's popularity domestically and abroad, particularly in China, as evidenced by becoming the first rookie to start in the All-Star Game since Grant Hill in 1995. 

Although he finished second in the NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting to Amar'e Stoudemire, Yao’s rookie season was a strong indication of his potential and paved the way for a successful NBA career that included multiple All-Star and All-NBA selections and widespread recognition as one of the premier centers of his era.