Zion Williamson joined the New Orleans Pelicans with a ton of hype, but was he the most hyped rookie of the last 20 years? Let’s take a look.
It doesn’t happen often, but every few years a player enters the NBA who is different. Zion Williamson was already a legend before being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans and it was a foregone conclusion he would be the number one pick.
Consensus number one picks don’t come along every year, in fact, there have only been a handful of years in the last 20 when the number one pick wasn’t an argument.
These seven guys came into the league with a ton of hype and for good reason. They were the alpha dogs of their class, the guys everyone knew would go number one.
A couple of them increased the hype by going to rejuvenated markets or their home town teams, while others had an air of mystery and even myth.
Here are the seven most-hyped rookies of the last 20 years in order of their hyped-ness. All had or are having great careers in the NBA, so the excitement was warranted.
#7: Derrick Rose, 2008 Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose was hyped for a couple of reasons. He had just put on an electric performance in the NCAA season, leading the Memphis Tigers to a 38-2 record before losing in overtime in the final game.
Rose was amazing in the tournament, showing his otherworldly quickness on offense and locking down the other team with his defense.
Guards who can fly will always capture the imagination and Rose could fly.
He was also hyped because he was drafted by his hometown Chicago Bulls. The Bulls hadn’t had any success in the post-Michael Jordan era, so the idea of a hometown kid leading them back to glory had the Bulls’ fans ecstatic.
Rose didn’t disappoint, winning Rookie of the Year and leading the Bulls back to the playoffs. Rose went on to win an MVP with the Bulls before blowing out his knee and neither he nor the Bulls have been the same since.
Rose has had one of the biggest “what-if” careers since, but for a short time it looked like the hometown rookie was going to be an all-time great.