Houston Rockets greatest draft picks #1: Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon is the only answer to the question, “who is the greatest draft pick in Houston Rockets’ history?” A player has to be awfully special to be drafted before Michael Jordan and that not be engraved on their tombstone.
Olajuwon was selected with the first pick of the 1984 draft and made an instant impact as he averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game and the Rockets reached the playoffs after winning just 29 games the season before.
While his rookie season would be a career year for most, it represented the floor for him as he essentially equaled or bested those per game marks every season from 1985-86 to 1996-97. Olajuwon is an All-time great and his resume of two defensive player of the year awards and an MVP speak for itself.
Throughout NBA history, the first overall pick has produced an average of 76.9 career win shares. Olajuwon had blown by that mark by his eighth season in the league (83.4 win shares) and that doesn’t even include his two peak seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94 when he combined for 30.2 win shares.
That two-year stretch saw Olajuwon take home back-to-back defensive player of the year awards and snag his lone MVP in 1993-94. All of his individual success led to the only two championships in Rockets franchise history and two Finals MVP awards to add to his trophy case.
Olajuwon had always performed in the playoffs, but over the course of those two championship runs, he took it to a whole new level. Through 45 playoff games, he averaged 30.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks a game and solidified himself as one of the greatest centers in the history of the sport.
Olajuwon is the greatest Rocket of all time. He did everything you could have asked a player and more. The Rockets only had one losing season with him in town and that was when he missed half the season. The greatest draft pick in Rockets history is an easy choice. It’s Hakeem Olajuwon.