In 1993-94, with a franchise best 58-24 record, Hakeem took the Jordan-less NBA by storm and won back-to-back championships in an era that’d be later defined by ESPN’s 30 for 30 series as “Winning Time.”
Even though Hakeem was joined by great players of the likes of Kenny Smith, Sam Cassell, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Clyde Drexler (just for the second championship), not all said players were drafted by the team.
With four Hall of Fame draft picks, the Rockets have been somewhat successful at the draft.
1. Pat Riley (San Diego Rockets’ 7th pick – 1967):
Inducted to the Hall of Fame later in his career (2008) as a coach for the Miami Heat.
He didn’t have the best career with the team. In three years as a Rocket he had 7.2 points per game on .394 shooting in 16.1 minutes of play. That’s not the most effective stat sheet in the world but it was decent enough for its time.
Still, his coaching career make him an honorary guest in this list.
2. Elvin Hayes (San Diego Rockets’ 1st pick – 1968):
The Big E. Who could forget one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. Inducted to the Hall of Fame as a player in 1990.
Elvin logged in a stunning 20.6 points per game on .447 shooting and 12.2 rebounds per game; all this on 36.3 minutes per game. Guess who’s got a career 19.9 points per game on .506 shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game? Yep, Tim Duncan.
Elvin Hayes was pretty good.
3. Calvin Murphy (San Diego Rockets’ 18th pick – 1970):
Calvin joined the San Diego Rockets in 1970, the franchise’s last year before they moved out of San Diego to become what we’ve come to know as the Houston Rockets.
Calvin averaged 17.9 points per game in .482 shooting and 4.4 assists per game, not great numbers for a point guard.
In the 1975-76 season, Calvin led the Rockets to a 40-42
winning losing record. Regardless, this is, by far, not the worst season the Rockets had under Murphy. In 1977-78, Murphy led the team to a 28-54 record.
Calvin was inducted to the Hall of Fame as a player in 1993.
4. Ralph Sampson (Houston R0ckets’ 1st pick – 1983):
As No. 1 prospect in the country, Ralph spent his college career, and a very decorated one, in the spotlight.
“It was amazing, just the chaos around Ralph at the time, the attention that he got.” – Doug Elgin (h/t The Washington Post)
But not all his accolades where at the college level. He also had a great pro-level career averaging 19.7 points per game, and 10.5 rebounds in five seasons with the Houston Rockets.
He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2012.
And last, but definitely not least…
5. Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets’ 1st pick – 1984):
The Nigerian native came to the United States to the University of Houston.
Coming to the league after a somewhat succesfull collegue career at Houston, Hakeem led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships when Michael Jordan went into an NBA hiatus.
The Dream averaged 22.5 points per game on .513 shooting and 11.4 rebounds as a ten-year member of the franchise.
He was inducted to the Hall of Fame as a player in 2008.
He’s been often regarded as one of the best centers to have ever played the game. He’s known for teaching post-up moves and paint play to current NBA players. It was after training for a whole summer with Hakeem when LeBron James developed the post play that would help him lead the Miami Heat to the second NBA championship in franchise history.