Greatest NBA Player #19: Hakeem Olajuwon-162.77
Although Hakeem Olajuwon is generally considered to be a top 10 player and certainly a top five center, he barely cracks the top 20 all-time and wins shares. That can be attributed to Olajuwon’s reputation as less of a regular-season player and more of a postseason player. That is not to say that he didn’t put up monster numbers; he did, including averaging 24.2 points, 12 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, and 1.9 assists over his first 12 seasons before sharply declining over his final four seasons.
Even then, he was better in the postseason, increasing his scoring to 25.9 points per game while also increasing his true shooting percentage from 55.3 to 56.9%. His P.E.R. also spiked, going from a very good 23.6 to 25.7. So why does he rank relatively low in win shares?
Despite being arguably the best defensive player in NBA history, Olajuwon’s offensive numbers don’t stack up as well compared to fellow 1990s centers such as Shaq and David Robinson. They put up comparable or superior scoring numbers with better efficiency during their peaks.
Still, Olajuwon bested both in the playoffs, beating Shaq and the Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals and Robinson in the 1995 West Semifinals. He is also the only player of the three to lead a team to two championships without another superstar. He may be in the top 20 on this list, but it doesn’t fully capture Olajuwon’s greatness.