Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor was named the 2004-05 NBA got milk? Rookie of the Year as voted on by a panel of league sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada, it was announced by the NBA.
Okafor received 514 points, including 77 of 126 possible first-place votes. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received. Chicago’s Ben Gordon finished with 443 points, while Orlando’s Dwight Howard finished third with 161 points.
“It’s an honor to win the Rookie of the Year with such other talented candidates. This is an award that every rookie strives to get and it means a lot to me,” said Okafor. “I wouldn’t have been able to reach this level without the contributions of my coaches and teammates. It was a fun season and I look forward to many more good times with the Charlotte Bobcats.”
The second overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Okafor led all rookies this season with averages of 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds in 35.6 minutes. He finished the regular season ranked third in the NBA with 3.8 offensive rebounds, fourth with 10.9 rebounds and 47 double-doubles and 14th with 1.7 blocks. Okafor was also one of eight NBA players to average a double-double this season.
In addition, Okafor recorded 16 games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds, including his career- high 30 points against the L.A. Lakers on March 12 and his career-high 19 rebounds against Detroit on April 20 and Philadelphia on January 19.
He also becomes only the third winner from an expansion team and the first since Damon Stoudamire (Toronto) took home the award following the 1995-96 season. The first expansion team player to win the award was Geoff Petrie (Portland) when he shared the honor with Dave Cowens in 1970-71.
"Today is a terrific day for Emeka Okafor and the Charlotte Bobcats organization. Emeka is very deserving of the Rookie of the Year award," Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "He is a young man who led all rookies in minutes, scoring and rebounding and did it all while being in traffic down in the paint. This is a great honor and something that can never be taken away."
The 6-10, 252-pound forward was a three-time winner of the NBA’s Eastern Conference got milk? Rookie of the Month award (November, December, April) and posted 19 consecutive double-doubles from November 21 to January 1, the longest such streak by any NBA player in 2004-05. The last rookie to have more consecutive double-doubles than Okafor was 12-time NBA All-Star Elvin Hayes, who registered 60 straight from October 30, 1968 to February 22, 1969. During the 19-game streak, Okafor averaged 18.0 points and 13.0 rebounds.
Okafor became the 11th rookie since 1983 to average 10-plus rebounds during the regular season and the eighth such player to win the Rookie of the Year award, joining past winners Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Johnson, Derrick Coleman, David Robinson and Ralph Sampson. Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon also averaged double-figure rebounding during their rookie seasons but placed second to O’Neal, Johnson and Michael Jordan for the Rookie of the Year honors.
Following are the voting results for this year’s got milk? Rookie of the Year Award: