Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are the first teammates to win back-to-back NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 43 years. History shows that the years following this rare feat, or when these former young stars are paired together, it often leads to immediate success.
The Timberwolves have missed the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons and hope to follow the trend.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are two former Rookie of the Year recipients that have been paired up with success. James, who won the award in 2004 in Cleveland, and Irving, who won in 2012 with the Cavaliers, have played in back-to-back Eastern Conference finals since joining forces.
Chris Paul, who won the Rookie of the Year in 2006 with New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, and Blake Griffin, who won the award in 2011, have led the Los Angeles Clippers to five straight postseasons since teaming up in 2011-2012.
Former Rookie of the Year winners Derrick Rose (2009) and Pau Gasol (2002) advanced to the conference semifinals in their first year playing together in 2015.
The first teammates to win back-to-back top rookie honors were Walt Bellamy and Terry Dischinger of the Chicago Packer/Zephyrs (today’s Washington Wizards) in 1962 and 1963. The franchise advanced to the playoffs in two of the next three years before landing another set of Rookie of Year honorees.
Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld won the award in 1968 and 1969, respectively, after the franchise moved to Baltimore and was renamed the Bullets. The franchise qualified for 11 straight playoff appearances starting in 1969 and played in the 1971 NBA Finals.
The Buffalo Braves (today’s Los Angeles Clippers) produced Rookie of the Year honorees Bob McAdoo in 1973 and Ernie DiGregorio in 1974 and played in the playoffs the following two seasons.
Geoffe Petrie and Sidney Wicks won Rookie of the Year in the first two seasons of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise, 1971 and 1972, but the club didn’t make the playoffs until five years later. The Trail Blazers won an NBA championship in 1977 without Petrie or Wicks.
Woody Sauldsberry won Rookie of the Year with the Philadelphia Warriors (now Golden State) in 1958 and in 1960 Wilt Chamerlain won the award. The franchise made the playoffs three of the next four seasons including a run to the NBA Finals in 1964.
If history repeats itself, the Wolves should be postseason bound, if not next season, very soon.