Top 5 NBA rookie seasons by an Illinois basketball player

Illinois basketball has a history of putting players in the NBA, and here are the top five NBA rookie seasons by former Illini greats
Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6
Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6 / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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No. 2 Deron Williams (2005-06)

Again, it is tough to compare the modern-era players with the players who were around when the professional ranks were just getting started. I feel comfortable with putting Deron Williams at the No. 2 spot on this list, though.

Williams was an all-timer with the Illinois basketball program. He was a consensus All-American and helped Illinois reach the national championship in 2005. Williams’ 12.5 points, 6.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game as a junior were huge for this program.

Those great numbers that Williams put up at Illinois caught the attention of the NBA. With pick No. 3 in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz selected Williams.

Williams’ rookie year was special. He averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game. Those great numbers earned him NBA All-Rookie honors that season as well.

From the jump, Williams was a leader on the Jazz. There is a reason Utah picked No. 3 in the 2005 NBA Draft. They only had 26 wins the year before, so it is not like Williams was going to a ready-made team.

Williams helped improve the Jazz from 26 wins to 41 wins during his rookie season. Along with his great numbers, I think Williams belongs in the No. 2 spot on the list of the greatest NBA rookie seasons by an Illinois basketball player.