Even the best NBA rookies have a learning curve because the NBA, quite simply, is the most brutally competitive sports league in the world.
We saw that this year with Zion Williamson, once he was healthy enough to play. Even though he left an indelible impression in a season shortened at the beginning by injury and the end by pandemic, there were still moments when he wasn’t experienced enough to know what he could and couldn’t get away with.
Same thing happened to Michael Jordan. He was spectacular from the beginning but it’s not like more experienced players didn’t teach him a few lessons in his rookie year.
Take the Lakers for instance. In 1984-85, Magic Johnson was well into his legendary NBA career. He had a brilliant cast to work with: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was 38 but still potent, James Worthy, who was the perfect match for Magic’s game, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis and several worthy reserves.
In this clip, you can see Jordan’s brilliance but not yet his total dominance. A few years later, Jordan was essentially unbeatable when he decided to take over a game. As a rookie though he still had a lot to learn.