Why Hakeem Olajuwon is the Greatest International Player Ever

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Washington Bullets
Houston Rockets v Washington Bullets / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
4 of 4
Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
1995 NBA Finals / Getty Images/GettyImages

Hakeem's playoff dominance is what separates him from Dirk Nowitzki

When it came to the playoffs Hakeem was an absolute menace. He’s 13th in career playoff VORP, 11th in career playoff BPM, 17th in career playoff WS, 20th in career playoff WS per 48 minutes, and 6th in career playoff PER. 

For retired international players, Hakeem ranks first in career playoff VORP, BPM, PER, and WS per 48 minutes. He’s second in career playoff WS to Dirk Nowitzki by 0.53. In the regular season, Hakeem has a strong claim to the title of best international player in NBA history, but it isn’t ironclad. However, when it comes to the playoffs, there is simply no contest, Hakeem is the best.

The final feather in Hakeem’s cap is what he was able to accomplish with the Rockets. According to Basketball Reference's simple rating system (SRS), Hakeem was never once on a top-five regular-season team. In essence, Hakeem was never on a true title contender and ended up with two rings. In sharp contrast, Dirk was on six top-five SRS teams throughout his career and ended his career with one championship. 

Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest international player in the history of the NBA and Dirk is second. They both won one MVP and made 12 All-NBA teams and have together set the standard for all international players that come. But there’s a reason that Hakeem has two championships and Dirk has one. Hakeem was able to do more with less and that’s counts an awful lot. 

Next. Where Hakeem Olajuwon ranks All-Time. dark