We asked this question in our last edition of the Rookie Rankings: Can a player from a 65-loss team win Rookie of the Year?
The answer: One already has.
In the 1999-2000 season, the Chicago Bulls were continuing their rebuilding following the second retirement of Michael Jordan and went 17-65. One of their few bright spots was a young power forward named Elton Brand, who averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds and shared Rookie of the Year honors with Houston’s Steve Francis.
But Brand is not an outlier. In the draft lottery era, he is among five players who have won Rookie of the Year playing for 60-loss teams, and there are another two winners whose squads went 23-59.
For example, Kevin Durant was the 2008 Rookie of the Year – and led the Seattle SuperSonics to a sterling 20-62 mark. In 2005, Emeka Okafor outpolled both Dwight Howard and Sixth Man Award winner Ben Gordon despite an 18-64 record by his Charlotte Bobcats.