Houston Rockets: 30 Greatest players in franchise history

By Ben Beecken
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith, Robert Horry, Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon, Kenny Smith, Robert Horry, Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets Vernon Maxwell (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Vernon Maxwell (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

169. . . Shooting Guard. Vernon Maxwell. 19


  • Six seasons with the Rockets (1989-96)

  • Averaged 14.9 points and 4.3 assists per game

  • 2x NBA Champion with the Rockets

Vernon Maxwell is yet another Rockets player who headed to Houston early in his career and rode the wave to two NBA championships before moving on to other organizations.

Maxwell was was drafted in the second round by the Denver Nuggets in 1988, but never played for them. Instead, he spent the first year-plus of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Then, he was sold to the Rockets by San Antonio. In his first full year with Houston, he was a fixture in the starting lineup almost right away.

In 1990-91, Maxwell averaged 17 points and 3.7 assists per game, after scoring just nine points per game the previous season. While he only shot 40.4 percent from the field, Maxwell launched 6.2 3-point attempts per game — making 33.7 percent of them — which was a massive amount for an individual player back in the early 1990s.

The Rockets won 52 games under Don Chaney that year and 42 the next, although Chaney was replaced by Rudy Tomjanovich midway through the season.

The coaching move worked, evidently, as only two seasons later the Rockets were embarking on back-to-back NBA titles, with Maxwell as a regular starter. He continued to be a gunner under Tomjanovich, although his percentages dipped slightly. After putting up 17.2 points per game in 1991-92, Maxwell only averaged 13.6 points per game over his last three years in Houston.

Maxwell went on to play seemingly everywhere: the Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio (again), the Orlando Magic, the Charlotte Hornets, the Sacramento Kings, the then-Seattle SuperSonics, Philadelphia (again) and finally the Dallas Mavericks.

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