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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Elvin Hayes #44 of the Houston Rockets. Copyright 1971 NBAE (Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images)
Elvin Hayes #44 of the Houston Rockets. Copyright 1971 NBAE (Photo by Vernon Biever/NBAE via Getty Images) /

. . Power Forward/Center. Elvin Hayes. 7. 169


  • Seven seasons with the Rockets (1968-72, 1981-84)

  • Averaged 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game

  • 4x All-Star with the Rockets

Elvin Hayes was a member of the inaugural San Diego Rockets in 1968, playing three All-Star seasons in San Diego before joining the team in Houston and making one more All-Star team. Then, it was off to the Baltimore franchise that then became the then-Washington Bullets before a return to Houston to wrap up his career.

Hayes was the first overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, and he was a superstar from day one. As a rookie, Hayes averaged a ridiculous 28.4 points and 17.1 rebounds per game. He only averaged less than 20 points per game once in his career before he turned 35 years old. Hayes never played less than 80 games in what was, all-told, a 16-year career in the NBA.

To make matters even crazier, Hayes averaged 38.4 minutes per game for his career — not a crazy number by any stretch back in those days, but a huge number for a guy that basically never missed a game as a professional.

After averaging 27.4 points and 16.3 rebounds per game in his first sting with the Rockets franchise, Hayes spent 1972-1981 with the Bullets franchise. He averaged 21.3 points and 12.7 rebounds during that stretch, making the All-Star team every year except for his last one in a Bullets uniform.

Hayes returned to Houston in 1981 and had a three-year swan song that finally saw him take a backseat as a 37-year-old, as he primarily came off the bench during his last two years in the league.

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