Houston Rockets: Ranking the top 10 players in team history

Anthony Duckett
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT}
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT} /
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Moses Malone #24 of the Houston Rockets
Moses Malone #24 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. Moses Malone

Moses Malone went to the Rockets prior to the 1976-1977 season and improved his scoring numbers in each of the six years he played for the Rockets. Malone made the All-Star team in each of his final five seasons with the Rockets. Malone led the league in rebounds in three of the final four years he played on the Rockets and has team career averages of 24 points and 15 rebounds per game. Malone also set the record for most offensive rebounds in a single season, which still stands today.

In the 1977-1978 season, Malone played in only 59 games yet still led the league in offensive rebounds. Not only that, Malone led the league in offensive rebounds in each of his six years in Houston. In the 1980-1981 season, Malone led the Rockets to their first NBA Finals appearance in team history, despite going 40-42 during the regular season. Malone was Herculean during the Rockets’ postseason run of that season, as the Rockets were the lower seed in each of the first three rounds in the Western Conference playoffs.

In the first round against the higher-seeded Lakers, Malone averaged 31 points and 17.7 rebounds, followed by 28 points and 12 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs. In the Western Conference Finals against the Kansas City Kings, Malone averaged 27.4 points and 14.6 rebounds. The Rockets were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in six games in the NBA Finals, but Malone is the reason they even got there despite winning only 40 games.

Malone also won two MVP Awards while in Houston, as he took home the award during the 1978-1979 season and the 1981-1982 season. Malone is the only player in Rockets history to win the MVP award numerous times and is one of only thirteen players in NBA history to win the MVP multiple times. The Rockets only missed the playoffs in one of the six years Malone was in Houston.

As one could imagine, Malone is entrenched in the Rockets’ record books, as he ranks second in offensive rebounds, third in defensive rebounds, and third in total rebounds. In addition, Malone ranks third in blocks, sixth in points, third in minutes per game, first in rebounds per game, and second in points per game behind only James Harden. Malone had his jersey retired in Houston and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, which was his first year eligible.

For most Rockets fans, the debate begins after Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden, as there are varying opinions. There shouldn’t be though, as Malone is one of the greatest players in NBA history, let alone in Rockets history.

Next: No. 2