Alabama – Charles Barkley
4 Seasons – 16.5 PPG, 12.2 REB, 3.9 AST
Charles Barkley was traded to the Houston Rockets at the tail-end of his career, playing for four seasons with the team before retiring at age 36 after the 1999-00 season.
The Hall of Famer was one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, racking up 12,546 rebounds over his 16-year NBA career. Sir Charles also made the All-Star team in his first season with the Rockets in 1996-97.
Honorable mention: Robert Horry
Arkansas – Scottie Pippen
1 Season – 14.6 PPG, 6.5 REB, 5.9 AST
Strangely, Arkansas has produced three players that had excellent overall NBA careers but had their time in Houston as just a small blip in their overall career. Of those three, Scottie Pippen is clearly the best, with the other two being Glen Rice and Joe Johnson.
Pippen joined the team in the lockout-shortened 1999 season and formed a formidable trio with Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Chemistry issues within the team plus some off-the-court issues, however, led to a first-round exit, and ultimately the Rockets traded the Hall of Famer to Portland.
Honorable mention: Caldwell Jones
California – James Harden
8 Seasons – 29.6 PPG, 6.0 REB, 7.7 AST
From two Hall of Famers to a future Hall of Famer, the best California-born Houston Rocket ever is undoubtedly James Harden. In a field of 32 that includes nostalgic names like Chase Budinger and Jon Barry along with current Rockets like Austin Rivers, Russell Westbrook and Tyson Chandler, Harden stands on a pedestal of his own.
James has averaged over 30 points per game for each of the last two seasons and was averaging 34.4 this season before the NBA was suspended. The former league MVP has proven to be one of the most offensively-skilled players of all-time and is the main reason Houston has even been in contention for the NBA crown over the last few years.
Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook
Colorado – Chuck Nevitt
3 Seasons – 1.8 PPG, 1.6 REB, 0.1 AST
If you couldn’t tell by the numbers above, Colorado hasn’t exactly produced a wealth of talent for the Rockets. Only Eric McWilliams, who played in 44 total games for the Rockets in 1973, is the only other Colorado-born NBA player that’s ever played for the franchise.
Chuch Nevitt spent three seasons with the Rockets, starting in 1982 when he played just 64 minutes over six games. After spending seasons elsewhere, Nevitt returned to the Rockets for two seasons starting in 1988, showing up in 43 games in his second season with the team and three in his last.
Connecticut – Calvin Murphy
13 Seasons – 17.9 PPG, 2.1 REB, 4.4 AST
Getting back to Hall of Famers, Calvin Murphy has become synonymous with the city of Houston. Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Murphy was drafted by the Rockets when they were still in San Diego in 1970.
After enjoying a fantastic career in which he played more seasons with the Rockets than anyone not named Hakeem (13), Calvin was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
Murphy’s contributions to the city of Houston didn’t end with his playing career, however. He went on to work for the Rockets in several roles, most notably as a television analyst, which he still does to this day.
Delaware – Stephen Graham
1 Season – 2.8 PPG, 1.2 REB, 0.5 AST
Being the only Delaware-born NBA player to ever spend time as a Rocket, Stephen Graham takes this spot by default. Only nine players from Delaware have made it to the league, most notably Walt Hazzard and current Bucks guard Donte Vincenzo, but none of those eight ever played for Houston.
Graham’s career never quite took off, but he did spend six years in one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Graham currently serves as a player development coach for the Denver Nuggets.
Florida – Tracy McGrady
6 Seasons – 22.7 PPG, 5.5 REB, 5.6 AST
While Tracy McGrady statistically had his biggest years during his time with the Orlando Magic, McGrady actually spent more time with the Houston Rockets than any other team.
While some of his time in Houston was hampered by injuries, the Hall of Famer still made the All-Star team three times in his six years with the franchise. McGrady played a key role in the 22-game winning streak the Rockets enjoyed in the 2007-08 season and also provided the most thrilling 35 seconds of basketball ever played.
Honorable mentions: Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe
Georgia – Dwight Howard
3 Seasons – 16.0 PPG, 11.7 REB, 1.5 AST
Dwight Howard turned down a maximum contract from the Los Angeles Lakers to join the Houston Rockets in 2013. Howard joined Harden to help the team make the playoffs for each of the three seasons he was on the team, but they were eliminated in the first round in two of them.
Still, Howard was one of the best defensive bigs the Rockets have ever seen. It’s a shame the three-time Defensive Player of the Year didn’t quite fit in with Houston, because the talent was always there. Howard is currently enjoying a renaissance season back in L.A.
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