LIST: The greatest NBA rookie playoff records

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A big reason why many NBA observers are so interested in the draft and rookie performances is to get a glimpse of the future.

But sometimes, teams can’t wait for the future. They need a star rookie to step up now.

To wit, legendary players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell made immediate impacts on their teams — not just in the regular season, but more importantly in the playoffs.

With all that in mind, Rookie Wire commemorates NBA postseason records set by first-year players below.

[Sources: 2021 NBA playoff media guide, statmuse.com]

Also see:

The 101 greatest nicknames in NBA history

The 10 greatest rookie scorers in NBA history

Every NBA Rookie of the Year winner since NBA-ABA merger

Most points by a rookie, single game: Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

(AP Photo/Alvan Quinn)

1.) Wilt Chamberlain, 53: Philadelphia Warriors vs. Syracuse, March 14, 1960 2.) Wilt Chamberlain, 50: Philadelphia Warriors at Boston, March 22, 1960 3.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 46: Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia 76ers, at Madison, Wisconsin, April 3, 1970

Most rebounds by a rookie, single game: Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

(AP Photo/Bill Allen)

1.) Wilt Chamberlain, 35: Philadelphia Warriors at Boston, March 22, 1960 2.) Wilt Chamberlain, 34: Philadelphia Warriors at Boston, March 20, 1960 3.) Bill Russell, 32: Boston vs. St. Louis, April 13, 1957

Most assists by a rookie, single game: Spud Webb

Spud Webb
Spud Webb

(Tim DeFrisco / Getty Images)

1.) Spud Webb, 18: Atlanta vs. Detroit, April 19, 1986 2.) Nate McMillan, 16: Seattle vs. Los Angeles Lakers, May 23, 1987 2.) Magic Johnson, 16: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix, April 8, 1980

Most blocks by a rookie, single game: Manute Bol

Manute Bol
Manute Bol

(AP Photo)

1.) Manute Bol, 9: Washington at Philadelphia, April 18, 1986 2.) David Robinson, 8: San Antonio vs. Portland, May 10, 1990 2.) Manute Bol, 8: Washington vs. Philadelphia, April 22, 1986 2.) Manute Bol, 8: Washington at Philadelphia, April 20, 1986

Most steals by a rookie, single game: Maurice Cheeks

Maurice Cheeks
Maurice Cheeks

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

1.) Maurice Cheeks, 8: Philadelphia vs. New Jersey, April 11, 1979 2.) Darrell Walker, 7: New York at Detroit, April 17, 1984 3.) Horace Grant, 6: Chicago at Detroit, May 10, 1988

Highest playoff scoring average by a rookie: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Milwaukee Bucks
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Milwaukee Bucks

(AP Photo)

1.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 35.2: Milwaukee Bucks, 1969-70 (10 games) 2.) Wilt Chamberlain, 33.2: Philadelphia Warriors, 1959-60 (nine games) 3. Michael Jordan, 29.3: Chicago Bulls, 1984-85 (four games)

Highest playoff rebounding average by a rookie: Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

(AP Photo)

1.) Wilt Chamberlain, 25.8: Philadelphia Warriors, 1959-60 (nine games) 2.) Bill Russell, 24.4: Boston Celtics, 1956-57 (10 games) 3.) Wes Unseld, 18.5: Baltimore Bullets, 1968-69 (four games)

Highest playoff assists average by a rookie: Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson, New York Knicks
Mark Jackson, New York Knicks

(AP Photo/Susan Ragan)

1.) Mark Jackson, 9.8: New York Knicks, 1987-88 (four games) 2.) Magic Johnson, 9.4: Los Angeles Lakers, 1979-80 (16 games) 3.) Chris Webber, 9.0: Golden State Warriors, 1993-94 (three games)

Highest playoff blocks average by a rookie: Manute Bol

Manute Bol, Charles Barkley
Manute Bol, Charles Barkley

(AP Photo/Bill Smith)

1.) Manute Bol, 5.8: Washington Bullets, 1985-86 (five games) 2.) David Robinson, 4.0: San Antonio Spurs, 1989-90 (10 games) 3.) Alonzo Mourning, 3.4: Charlotte Hornets, 1992-93 (nine games)

Highest playoff steals average by a rookie: Maurice Cheeks

Maurice Cheeks
Maurice Cheeks

(Mike Powell/Getty Images)

1.) Maurice Cheeks, 4.1: Philadelphia 76ers, 1978-79 (nine games) 2.) Eddie Johnson, 4.0: Atlanta Hawks, 1977-78 (two games) 3.) Magic Johnson, 3.1: Los Angeles Lakers, 1979-80 (16 games)

Most points by a rookie, NBA Finals game: Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson

(Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

1.) Magic Johnson, 42: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers, May 16, 1980 2.) Tommy Heinsohn, 37: Boston vs. St. Louis, April 13, 1957 2.) Joe Fulks, 37: Philadelphia Warriors vs. Chicago Stags, April 16, 1947 (Basketball Association of America)

Most rebounds by a rookie, NBA Finals game: Bill Russell

Bill Russell
Bill Russell

(AP Photo)

1.) Bill Russell, 32: Boston vs. St. Louis, April 13, 1957 2.) Bill Russell, 25: Boston vs. St. Louis, March 31, 1957 3.) Tommy Heinsohn, 23: Boston vs. St. Louis, April 13, 1957

Most assists by a rookie, NBA Finals game: Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson

(MPS-USA TODAY Sports)

1.) Magic Johnson, 11: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, May 7, 1980 2.) Magic Johnson, 10: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, May 14, 1980 2.) Magic Johnson, 10: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, May 4, 1980 2.) Walt Hazzard, 10: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston, April 25, 1965 2.) Tom Gola, 10: Philadelphia Warriors vs. Fort Wayne, March 31, 1956

Only rookie to be named NBA Finals MVP: Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson

(AP Photo)

Magic Johnson is the only rookie to have been named MVP of the NBA Finals. Just 20 at the time, he remains the youngest player to win the award as well. In the series, Johnson averaged 21.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1980 NBA Finals. Johnson capped the series in the clinching Game 6 by registering 42 points and 15 rebounds while filling in at center for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It remains one of the most memorable NBA Finals performances to this day.

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