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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SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 21: Steve Francis #3 of the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 21: Steve Francis #3 of the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

169. . . Point Guard. Steve Francis. 10


  • Six seasons with the Rockets (1999-2004, 2007-08)

  • Averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists, 6.0 rebounds per game

  • 3x All-Star with the Rockets

Out of the University of Maryland, Steve Francis was selected second overall by the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1999 NBA Draft but, made it known that he did not want to play in Vancouver.

After a contentious and, at times public battle regarding where Francis would play as a rookie, he was ultimately traded to Houston, where he would have a stellar rookie season. He split the NBA Rookie of the Year award with Elton Brand of the Chicago Bulls.

Francis averaged 18 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie, leading the Rockets to a 34-48 record. The next year, Francis upped his numbers to 19.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game, while the Rockets won 45 games, but still missed the playoffs.

Year three was when Francis finally made an All-Star team, and for good reason. He was in the midst of a season in which he averaged 21.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. Francis wasn’t a great defender, but wasn’t detrimental to the team, either, and was typically among the league leaders in steals per game.

Francis made three All-Star teams in a row before headlining a trade with the Orlando Magic along with Cuttino Mobley that brought Tracy McGrady, Tyronn Lue, and Juwan Howard to Houston.

Francis had one great year in Orlando, but was shipped off to the New York Knicks in his second season with the Magic to Madison Square Garden — not exactly a great return on investment from owner James Dolan. After a season and a half with the Knicks, Francis returned to Houston for a 10-game swan song in 2007-08 to close out his career.

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