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Of the past 25 Rookie of the Year winners, only 4 (Duncan, LeBron, CP and KD) went on to become definitively the best player in their draft class

As a newer Rockets fan, I’ve only recently started paying attention to the NBA draft, and the success rate of young players interested me. When Jalen Green got no Rookie of the Year buzz, I did a brief deep dive on the award to see how well it predicts future success: while ROYs usually don’t end up sucking, they typically do not end up as the best player in their class.

To look into ROY, I separated past ROYs into four categories: best career in their class ; career surpassed by another player in their class ; career comparable to other players in their class ; and to be determined . In the past 25 years*, it has been more common for ROYs to be surpassed by another player in their draft class than it has been for them to finish atop their class . Moreover, it is more common for another player to definitively surpass the ROY than it is for the ROY to have an debatable case for best career . And while some recent ROYs may seem like locks to buck the trend , there are plenty of live cases where the not-best trend looks like it will continue . It is worth mentioning that injuries played a not insignificant role .

** I excluded Scottie Barnes since we don’t even have a second season for the most recent ROY.*

**TL;DR: Rookie of the Year winners generally do not go on to have the undisputed best career in their class. Another player from their class generally surpasses their career.**

Here are the ROYs in their 4 categories, according to me:

**Best:** these ROYs were indisputably the best players from their draft class

1. Tim Duncan // Also relevant: TMac, Chauncey Billups
2. LeBron James // Also relevant: DWade, Milicic, Melo, Bosh
3. Chris Paul // Also relevant: DWill
4. Kevin Durant // Also relevant: Al Horford, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol

**Not-Best:** these ROYs were indisputably surpassed by another player from their draft class*

1. Allen Iverson // Surpassed by Kobe Bryant
2. Vince Carter // Surpassed by Dirk Nowitzki
3. Emeka Okafor // Surpassed by Dwight Howard
4. Brandon Roy // Surpassed by LaMarcus Aldridge and/or Kyle Lowry
5. Derrick Rose // Surpassed by Russell Westbrook
6. Tyreke Evans // Surpassed by Steph Curry
7. Kyrie Irving // Surpassed by Kawhi Leonard
8. Michael Carter-Williams // Surpassed by Giannis
9. Andrew Wiggins // Surpassed by Nikola Jokic and/or Joel Embiid
10. Malcolm Brogdan // Surpassed by Domantas Sabonias and/or Pascal Siakam

** This list does not include* ***every*** *player from the draft class that has had a superior career.*

**Debatable**: these ROYs have careers that at least rival other players from their draft class

1. Steve Francis/Elton Brand // Other candidates: Shawn Marion, Manu Ginobili
2. Mike Miller // Other candidates: Hedo Turkoglu, Jamal Crawford
3. Pau Gasol // Other candidates: Tony Parker
4. Amar’e Stoudemire // Other candidates: Yao Ming, Carlos Boozer
5. Blake Griffin // Other candidates: John Wall, Paul George, Gordon Hayward

**TBD**: these ROYs still have too much left to have a definitive answer yet, even if some of the answers seem obvious right now

1. Damian Lillard // Other candidates: Anthony Davis, Khris Middleton
2. Karl-Anthony Towns // Other candidates: Devin Booker
3. Ben Simmons // Other candidates: Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell
4. Luka Doncic // Other candidates: Trae Young
5. Ja Morant // Other candidates: Zion Williamson
6. LaMelo Ball // Other candidates: Anthony Edwards