Okafor edges former UConn teammate Gordon
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT% 73 15.1 10.9 0.9 .447 .609
The award will be announced on Wednesday. The Bobcats have called a news conference for what they have only called "a major announcement."
Okafor, the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft, led all rookies in scoring (15.9 points per game) and rebounding (10.9 rpg) and was second in his class behind Atlanta's Josh Smith in blocks (1.71). He also ranked second in the NBA with 3.8 offensive rebounds per game.
He ended his season with 47 games in double figures in both points and rebounds.
But Okafor spent the final months in a close battle with Gordon, his best friend and roommate while the two led Connecticut to the NCAA championship. Both left UConn for the NBA following the 2004 title, and they went Nos. 2 and 3 in the draft.
Gordon became a sparkplug for the Bulls off the bench while helping them into the postseason for the first time since Michael Jordan's retirement. He became the first rookie to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award on Tuesday after averaging 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season.
Gordon said he had not been told that Okafor had edged him for the award.
"I'll be happy for him," Gordon said. "He had a great season. So I'll definitely give him a call and congratulate him if he wins the award."
Okafor played under tremendous pressure the entire season as the face of the expansion Bobcats. Charlotte traded up in the draft for a chance to pick him, hoping to make him the cornerstone of their franchise.
Even with a limited supporting cast, Okafor was able to help the Bobcats to 18 wins despite preseason predictions that Charlotte would be the worst team in NBA history. He helped the Bobcats to two wins over Detroit, the defending NBA champions, as well as victories over Miami and Houston.
After the season-ending win over the Pistons, Okafor said he enjoyed his rookie season.
"With an expansion team, I knew that things would be different, but I didn't have anything to compare it to," he said. "I've had a pretty enjoyable experience. I can't complain at all. I've had a great time in Charlotte this year and its only going to get better. The future is looking bright."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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