Houston Rockets: Ranking the top 10 players in team history
10. Ralph Sampson
Ralph Sampson was selected with the first overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Rockets. Sampson would be higher on this list were it not for his Rockets career being limited to a little less than four and a half years in Space City. Despite that, Sampson averaged 19.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game as a member of the Rockets, and was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Sampson made the All-Star team in his first four full seasons with the Rockets and averaged 21 points per game along with 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks all in his first season in the league. To no one’s surprise, Sampson was named Rookie of the Year during the 1983-1984 season.
In each of Sampson’s first three years in the league, the Rockets improved their win total from that of their previous season and even made it to the NBA Finals in just Sampson’s third season in the NBA, which was only his second season paired with Hakeem Olajuwon. Sampson’s play was pivotal to the Rockets eliminating the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, who had the top seed in the Western Conference that year. This was considered a significant upset, as the Lakers had Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the time.
Sampson was the Rockets’ second-leading scorer and rebounder during that series, as he averaged 20.4 points and 8.8 rebounds during the Western Conference Finals, and played a significant role in the Rockets eliminating the Lakers in seven games. In the Western Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets, Sampson led the Rockets in rebounding with 13.5 per game, and also added 24.5 points, 5 assists and 2.2 blocks.
Although Sampson only played in four full seasons with the Rockets, he’s all over the franchise record books. Sampson ranks second in blocks per game, fourth in total blocks, sixth in rebounds per game and seventh in points per game. One can only imagine how many more team records he would have if he were on the team longer.
Next: No. 9