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 John Lucas (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets John Lucas (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

John Lucas. 24. 169. . . Point Guard


  • Five seasons with the Rockets (1976-78, 1984-86, 1989-90)

  • Averaged 11.6 points and 7.3 assists per game

John Lucas had three separate stints with the Rockets, with the first commencing after being selected first overall in the 1976 NBA Draft out of the University of Maryland.

He was as starter from day one, averaging 11.1 points and 5.6 assists in 30.9 minutes per game overall 82 contests in 1976-77. The next year, Lucas upped those numbers to 12.4 and 9.4 in 35.8 minutes per game.

After the 1977-78 season, Lucas was shipped off to the Golden State Warriors with cash as compensation for the Rockets signing Rick Barry in free agency. Lucas spent three years with the Warriors, two years with the then-Washington Bullets and one season with the San Antonio Spurs before being traded back to Houston.

In his first year back with the Rockets, Lucas only appeared in 47 games, starting 21. He averaged 11.4 points and 6.8 assists per game. The team went 48-34 and lost in five games to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

The next season, Lucas started all 65 games in which he appeared, averaging 15.5 points and 8.8 assists per game, as the team won 51 contests. But Lucas was waived in March after failing two drug tests and missed the team’s run to the Finals, where they fell to the mighty Boston Celtics, four games to two.

Lucas didn’t play again until the following January, when he was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent the next season and a half. Then, one season with the then-Seattle SuperSonics before he finished his career with the Rockets in 1989-90, appearing in 49 games and starting 18. Even at age 36, he was still a positive contributor off the bench for the team.

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