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Top 25 rookie seasons in NBA history: No. 5 David Robinson

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

The greatest rookie seasons in NBA history share a number of qualities, starting with individual statistical dominance. However, you can't overlook the context beyond the box score; initial expectations, team success, and overall legacy all matter.

While we wait for the 2019-20 season to resume, theScore's NBA editors have dusted off the record books to determine the top 25 rookie seasons in league history.

No. 5 in our series is San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson. Catch up on previous posts in the series here.

Before the Association

Robinson burst onto the scene with a standout sophomore season at Navy after coming off the bench as a rookie, averaging 23.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and four blocks in 32 games.

The 7-foot-1 center recorded 5.9 blocks per game as a junior in 1985-86 and set the single-season NCAA record with 207 rejections, a mark that still stands to this day.

Robinson saved the best basketball of his collegiate career for his senior season, though. The big man averaged a career-best 28.2 points en route to securing both the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the nation's top player.

Draft day

In a well-regarded 1987 draft class that included the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Kenny Smith, Muggsy Bogues, and Mark Jackson, Robinson stood above the pack as the top prospect.

However, "The Admiral" went on to serve two years in the U.S. Navy after the Spurs picked him first overall, which delayed his NBA debut until the start of the 1989-90 campaign.

Individual success

Robinson was a star from the moment he set foot on the hardwood.

The dynamic center won the 1989 Rookie of the Year award by a landslide after finishing 10th in scoring with 24.3 points per game. His averages of 12 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game also ranked second and third in the Association, respectively.

On top of taking home Rookie of the Year honors, Robinson made the All-Star team, the All-NBA third team, and the All-Defensive second team.

Team success

Robinson quickly turned around a Spurs club that finished with a 21-61 record in 1988-89 while allowing an uninspiring 112.8 points per game.

Thanks to a much-improved defense that allowed 102.8 points per contest, San Antonio improved by 35 wins in Robinson's rookie year en route to a 56-26 record. The Spurs' regular-season success carried over into the playoffs, as they came within one win of reaching the 1990 Western Conference finals.

Enduring legacy

Robinson played all 14 seasons of his career for the Spurs, earning 10 All-Star nods, 10 All-NBA selections, and an MVP award. He won a championship alongside second-year star Tim Duncan in 1998-99, then capped off his illustrious career with a second title in 2002-03 before retiring.

With an impressive 178.7 career win shares, Robinson is widely considered to be the second-greatest player to ever suit up for the Spurs behind fellow Hall of Famer Duncan.

Come back on Tuesday to see who came in at No. 4 in theScore's Top 25 Rookie Seasons series.

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