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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LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1994: Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD – CIRCA 1994: Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

. Forward. Rudy Tomjanovich. 5. 169.


  • 11 seasons with the Rockets (1970-81)

  • Averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game

  • 5x All-Star with the Rockets

Rudy Tomjanovich played one season with the San Diego Rockets before their move to Houston and spent the entirety of his 11-year career with the franchise. His career ran parallel to that of Murphy, although it ended a couple of years earlier, as Tomjanovich moved into coaching.

Tomjanovich was the second overall pick by the Rockets in 1970. He was a part-time player as a rookie, coming off the bench and only averaging 13.8 minutes per game.

But in his second season as a pro, Tomjanovich flourished with opportunity, averaging 15 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting and grabbing 11.8 rebounds per contest for good measure. For a 6-foot-8 forward, Tomjanovich was always a good rebounder. Early in his career, he played more power forward than small forward.

As a 24-year-old in his third year in the league, Tomjanovich upped his scoring average to 19.3 points and pulled down 11.6 rebounds per game.

While Tomjanovich was named to his first All-Star game during the 1973-74 season, the Rockets didn’t make the playoffs until the following year, when they went 41-41 and beat the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round.

By that point, Tomjanovich was a regular All-Star as he made five of the next six teams, only missing the game during the 1977-78 season because he played in just 23 regular season games due to injury.

Tomjanovich played regular minutes through the 1980-81 campaign, and the Rockets largely maintained a competitive franchise during his time as a player.

He’s also known for his extremely successful run as a coach in Houston, leading the team from 1991 through 2003. Tomjanovich coached the Rockets to their only two championships in franchise history in just his second and third seasons at the helm.

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