Nine years ago today, Derrick Rose was named the 2011 NBA MVP, becoming the youngest player to take home the Maurice Podoloff trophy. It may be a while until the 2020 MVP is officially crowned, though Rose’s record should be safe — for this year (see: Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson). To celebrate this holy occasion, let’s look back on the five youngest MVPs in league history.
5. Bob Pettit, 24, St. Louis Hawks, 1955-56
In his second season — and the first after the team relocated from Milwaukee — Pettit blossomed into one of the league’s early superstars. He averaged 25.7 points, 16.2 boards for the Hawks, taking home the league’s inaugural MVP award. Pettit would win his second MVP in 1958-59.
4. Wilt Chamberlain, 23, Philadelphia Warriors, 1959-60
After a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters, Chamberlain hit the league by storm, winning Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, and regular-season MVP in 1960 (including 43 points and 28 rebounds in his debut). Chamberlain posted 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game and carried Philadelphia to the Finals, where he was bested by Bill Russell — something Wilt would become accustomed to during his career.
3. Bob McAdoo, 23, Buffalo Braves, 1974-75
McAdoo is one of the most underrated stars of all-time, perhaps because he bounced around a lot (seven teams) during a down era for the league. But beyond having one of the silkiest games in history, McAdoo averaged over 30 points per game three times, and remains the last player to average at least 30 points and 15 rebounds for a full season (1973-74).
He won MVP in his third campaign, averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. McAdoo and Dr. Jack Ramsay led the Braves to 49 wins.
2. Wes Unseld, 23, Washington Bullets, 1968-69
Unseld was the original “Round Mound of Rebound.” In 1969, the Bullets legend joined Chamberlain as the only rookies to earn MVP honors. His 13.8 points per game is the lowest ever for an MVP winner, but his 18.2 boards per game (at 6-foot-7, no less) hasn’t been topped by an MVP since. Unseld led Washington to four Finals appearances, ultimately winning the 1978 title and Finals MVP. He famously popularized the outlet pass, which made his elite rebounding even more impactful.
1. Derrick Rose, 22, Chicago Bulls, 2010-11
At 22 years and 191 days young, the Chicago native led the Bulls to 62 wins and the top seed in the East in 2011. Prime Rose went off for a career-high 25.0 points and 7.7 assists per game and a career-high usage range (32.2), adding up to 13.1 Win Shares and a league-leading 6.3 Offensive Box Plus Minus. Rose provided his hometown franchise with its first true building-block since Michael Jordan, until knee injuries and Thibodeau-induced fatigued prevented those tough Bulls teams from reaching their ceiling.