Houston Rockets: The 15 greatest centers of all-time

By Tevin Williams
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo credit should read CRAIG LASSIG/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read CRAIG LASSIG/AFP/Getty Images) /

. . Center, Power Forward. Kevin Willis. 9. 169

Kevin Willis was taken 11th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1984 NBA Draft. Willis spent a little over 10 seasons in Atlanta before a trade sent him to the Miami Heat in the 1994-95 season. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors before he signed with Houston as a free agent in 1996.

By this point, Willis was already 34, but that didn’t stop his from having two solid years with Houston. The Rockets had one of the most talented teams in franchise history centered around Olajuwon, shooting guard Clyde Drexler and power forward Charles Barkley in the 1996-97 season, but they lost to Utah in the Western Conference Finals. In the 1997-98 season, Willis averaged 16.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

The Rockets traded Willis to the Toronto Raptors in 1998. Willis then played with the Denver Nuggets and returned to Houston in the 2001-02 season. Then, he signed with the San Antonio Spurs and then Hawks before temporarily retiring after the 2004-05 season. Willis returned to play five games with the Dallas Mavericks before calling it a career for good in 2007 at 44 years old.

Willis played in the NBA for 21 seasons over 23 years, as he missed the entire 1988-89 season with a knee injury and missed the 2005-06 season in retirement. Willis didn’t start at center for Houston with Olajuwon in the lineup, but he did play a lot of center when Olajuwon was injured or taking a breather. He averaged 11.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in three seasons with Houston.