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 Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT}
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT} /

. . Center. Hakeem Olajuwon. 1. 169


  • 17 seasons with the Rockets (1984-01)

  • Averaged 22.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game

  • 12x All-Star, 1x MVP, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP

Was there ever any doubt?

Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the greatest players in the history of the league, dominating his position for the better part of two decades.

Olajuwon was the first overall pick of the Rockets in 1984, and he was immediately a superstar. He started all 82 games as a rookie, putting up 20.6 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, not to mention swatting away 2.7 shots per contest, too.

He was an All-Star from his first season, making 12 All-Star appearances in a 12-year stretch from 1984 to 1997. He led the league in rebounds per game in 1988-89 and 1989-90, and led the league in blocked shots three times: 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1993-94.

Even though Olajuwon was into his 30s, he was a huge part of the Rockets’ championship-winning teams in 1994 and 1995. Over 45 playoff games during those two seasons, Olajuwon averaged an insane 30.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.

Most players’ numbers decline slightly in the playoffs; after all, it’s harder competition and defenses have more time to prepare. But not the “The Dream”.

There wasn’t a clear decline from Olajuwon until 1997-98. While he didn’t make another All-Star team, he still managed to average in double-figures for his remaining four years in Houston.

Olajuwon spent one forgettable season with the Toronto Raptors in 2001-02, but other than that, he was a lifelong Rocket.

And if an MVP award, two championships with Finals MVP honors, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and 12 All-Star Game appearances wasn’t enough, Olajuwon had arguably the most famous single move in all of basketball named after him: “The Dream Shake”.

Next. Ranking all 31 international players in Rockets history

And that alone would have been enough to make him No. 1 on this list.

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