BOSTON -- When the NBA season officially kicks off, you can bank on much of the rookie hype being centered around the top three picks in the draft - Zion Williamson of New Orleans, Ja Morant in Memphis and the New York Knicks’ R.J. Barrett. 

Even with the top picks gobbling up most of the rookie shine, there are always a handful of first-year ballers whose play significantly outperforms where they were taken in the draft. 

And while most of the players we’re going to talk about on this list were first-round picks, you won’t find a lottery (top 14) pick among them. 


Because by virtue of being among the top 14 players selected, coming into the NBA and making an immediate impact is what’s supposed to happen, right? 

Recent winners of the rookie of the year award serve as a reminder of how the best rookies that float to the surface of success early on tend to come from the pool of players selected in the lottery. 

Since the lottery’s inception in 1985, only two non-lottery pick players went on to win the rookie of the year. 

And while this year’s rookie class has some elite players at the top, there’s no shortage of talented players who are eager to make the transition from being a player with potential to one who proves his worth in this league sooner rather than later.