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10 Best NBA Players Born In January: Hakeem Olajuwon And Dwyane Wade Lead The List

10 Best NBA Players Born In January: Hakeem Olajuwon And Dwyane Wade Lead The List

January is typically a horrid month for those living in the upper tier of the United States. Its cold and frigid weather calls for everyone to find activities inside. That coldness reflects some of the players that were born in this month as they grew older. Some of the best players born in January were straight cold-blooded, ice in their veins, superstars.

From scoring champions to back-to-back Finals MVPs, this list features a cool collected group of former NBA stars. Take a look at the top-10 players who were born in January.

Honorable Mention

Mychal Thompson

Mychal Thompson

Birth Date: January 30, 1955

Career Stats: 13.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Awards: 2x NBA Champion (1987, 1988)

The Trail Blazers selected Thompson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft. He was the first foreign-born player to ever be selected with the top pick. He played in Portland for eight years, where he started at both power forward and center positions. His best season came in 1981-1982 when he averaged 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.

Thompson won back-to-back championships with the Lakers after being acquired in February 1987. At the time, it gave head coach Pat Riley four former No. 1 overall picks in Thompson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and James Worthy. With the Lakers, Thompson played in 193 of 197 total games, where he was reliable as a member off the bench. Thompson remains a presence in the league as his son Klay Thompson is a three-time champion with the Golden State Warriors.

Jalen Rose

Jalen Rose, Indiana Pacers

Birth Date: January 30, 1973

Career Stats: 14.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Awards: Most Improved Player (2000), All-Rookie Second Team (1995)

Rose rose to fame, no pun intended, with the Indiana Pacers. He helped the team make three straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals. He became the first player in eight years other than Reggie Miller to lead the Pacers in scoring during the 1999-2000 season when he averaged 18.2 points per game. For this, he won Most Improved Player as the Pacers made the NBA Finals.

In the series, Rose averaged 25.0 points per game, including a 32-point effort in Game 3. However, Rose took a lot of flak when he intentionally injured Kobe Bryant in Game 2, which forced Bryant to miss Game 3. By the end of his career, he finished with respectable numbers.

10. Detlef Schrempf

Detlef Schrempf

Birth Date: January 21, 1963

Career Stats: 13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Awards: 3x All-Star (1993, 1995, 1997), All-NBA Third Team (1995), 2x Sixth Man of the Year (1991, 1992)

Schrempf was a former No. 8 overall pick from the 1985 NBA Draft. Playing for the Mavericks, he finished second in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage in 1986-1987. In 1991 and 1992, he won back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year Awards. The following year, he was the only player in the NBA to finish in the top-25 in scoring (19.1 PPG), rebounding (9.5 RPG), and assists (6.0 APG). He was also the first European player to be selected in the All-Star Game.

In 1993, he was traded to the SuperSonics, where he also ranked high in three-point field goal percentage. During the 1995-1995 season, he led the NBA in offensive rating with 127 points per 100 possessions. He played in the NBA Finals in 1996 before losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. At the time, he became the first German-born NBA player to reach the NBA Finals.

9. Mark Eaton

Mark Eaton

Birth Date: January 24, 1957

Career Stats: 6.0 PPG, 7.9, 1.0 APG, 0.4 SPG, 3.5 BPG

Awards: All-Star (1989), 2x Defensive Player of the Year (1985, 1989), 3x All-Defensive First Team (1985, 1986, 1989), 2x All-Defensive Second Team (1987, 1988), 4x Blocks Leader (1984, 1985, 1987, 1989), No. 53 retired by Jazz

Eaton spent all 11 years of his career with the Utah Jazz. He helped the franchise go from yearly 50-game losers to 50-game winners. After a 30-52 season in his first year, the Jazz made the playoffs 10 consecutive seasons. That began a run of 20 straight playoff berths for Utah.

In 875 career games, Eaton scored 5,216 points, snagged 6,939 rebounds, and blocked 3,064 shots. At the time of his retirement, he ranked second all-time in blocked shots, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Eaton is the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks per game at 3.50. There was once a six-season span from 1983 to 1989 that he led the league in blocks four times.

8. Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala

Birth Date: January 28, 1984

Career Stats: 11.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Awards: 3x NBA Champion (2015, 2017, 2018), Finals MVP (2015), All-Star (2012), All-Defensive First Team (2014), All-Defensive Second Team (2011)

After making a name for himself as an All-Star and All-Defensive caliber player, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr elected to move Iguodala to a sixth man role before the 2014-2015 season. It allowed Harrison Barnes to start. Iguodala has played 806 as a starter with zero games entering as a reserve, but he took the role and ran with it. That role helped the Warriors win the NBA championship in 2015, where he won Finals MVP.

In the NBA Finals, Iguodala was the team’s second-leading scorer and played defense primarily on LeBron James. Iguodala scored 22 points in Game 4, which was his best offensive output. He became the first Finals MVP to not have started every game in the Finals. The small-ball lineup flourished with Iguodala as the team won two more championships in 2017 and 2018, while the team made the NBA Finals in each season from 2015 to 2019.

7. Tom Gola


Birth Date: January 13, 1933

Career Stats: 11.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.2 APG

Awards: NBA Champion (1956), 5x All-Star (1960-1964), All-NBA Second Team (1958), Hall of Famer

After a stellar college career, Gola joined the Philadelphia Warriors as a territorial pick. He teamed up with Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston to lead the Warriors to a championship in 1956. He was best known for his defensive efforts, passing, and rebounding given that the two other players were much more gifted scorers.

Paired with Wilt Chamberlain, the 76ers were consistently playoff contenders. However, the team was never able to push past Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics. Gola’s greatest call to fame was during the 1959-1960 season when he recorded three straight games with a triple-double. Gold was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

6. Gilbert Arenas

(via Complex)

(via Complex)

Birth Date: January 6, 1982

Career Stats: 20.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Awards: 3x All-Star, All-NBA Second Team (2007), 2x All-NBA Third Team (2005, 2006)

Arenas were as cold as January when it came to scoring. His career-high in points was 60 during the 2006-2007 season, which broke the franchise record of 56 set by Earl Monroe in 1968. Arenas finished his Wizards career with three 50-point or more games and 29 games of 40 points or more. He is also one of only 26 players to have scored 60 points in a game.

Another notable record that Arenas has is that he is the only player in NBA history to average at least 29 points, six assists, and two steals in a single season at age 24 or younger. The closest was LeBron James, who averaged 27.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 2.2 steals. As for franchise records, Arenas still holds the record for most three-point field goals and points in a game.

5. Vince Carter

Vince Carter

Birth Date: January 26, 1977

Career Stats: 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Awards: 8x All-Star (2000-2007), All-NBA Second Team (2001), All-NBA Third Team (2000), Rookie of the Year (1999), Slam Dunk Contest Champion (2000)

Carter’s list of records runs deep. For the playoffs, he owns the most three-point field goals in one half, which he did in 2001 against the 76ers. He made eight straight field goals during that game. He is also the first and only player 40 years or older to hit at least three 3-point shots in a playoff game.

He holds 11 records with the Toronto Raptors and four records with the Brooklyn Nets. Some of those include most points scored in a season for Toronto, while he was the first player to score 2,000 points in a single season with the Nets. On top of his highlight-reel dunks, Vinsanity was one of a kind.

4. Alex English

Alex English

Birth Date: January 5, 2954

Career Stats: 21.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Awards: 8x All-Star (1982-1989), 3x All-NBA Second team (1982, 1983, 1986), Scoring Champion (1983), No. 2 retired by Nuggets, Hall of Famer

The acquisition of Alex English goes down as one of the best moves in team history. When English left the Nuggets, he was the holder of nearly every team record. That included career points, assists, games, and minutes out of any player to wear a Nugget uniform. He also owned the highest career scoring average with the team at 25.9 points per game.

During his tenure, the Nuggets made the playoffs nine straight times and won two Midwest Division titles. English was the first player to score 2,000 points in a single season eight consecutive times. During the 1980s, a year where Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played, English was considered the decade’s top scorer.

3. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins

Birth Date: January 12, 1960

Career Stats: 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Awards: 9x All-Star (1986-1994), All-NBA First team (1986), 4x All-NBA Second Team (1987, 1988, 1991, 1993), 2x All-NBA Third Team (1989, 1994), Scoring Champion (1986), 2x Slam Dunk Contest Champion (1985, 1990), NBA 75th Anniversary Team, No. 21 retired by Hawks, Hall of Famer

Wilkins was a fearsome opponent when he played for the Hawks. Besides his stellar seasons featuring trips to the All-NBA squad, he held several regular seasons, playoffs, and All-Star Game records. As for the regular season, he once finished a game 23 of 23 from the free-throw line against the Bulls. He is also one of eight players in NBA history to average at least 25 points per game for 10 consecutive seasons. The others are Jerry West, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.

As for the playoffs, Wilkins scored a record 47 points in a Game 7 in the 1988 series against Boston. The record has been broken by Durant and the Hawks lost the game 118-116 and the series. In a four-game series, Wilkins held the record for field goal attempts with 114, but that has also since been broken. Wilkins finished his career as a Hall of Famer in 2006.

2. Dwyane Wade

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Birth Date: January 17, 1982

Career Stats: 22.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Awards: 3x NBA Champion (2006, 2012, 2013), Finals MVP (2006), 13x All-Star (2005-2016, 2019), All-Star Game MVP (2010), 2x All-NBA First Team (2009, 2010), 3x All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2006, 2011), 3x All-NBA Third Team (2007, 2012, 2013), 3x All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009, 2010), Scoring Champion (2009), NBA 75th Anniversary Team, No. 3 retired by Heat

Wade is not a Hall of Famer just yet, but he is likely going to be a first-ballot selection when the voting comes. At 6-foot-4, and 220 pounds, Wade was a shooting guard that could play point guard. He holds the record for most blocks listed at this height. He was one of the quickest guards in the league and incredibly hard to defend. That led to Wade doing everything on the court from leading the league in scoring to free throws while dishing out a high amount of assists per game for his career.

Wade has the reputation as one of the most clutch players as well. He could hit a turnaround jump shot, double pivot move, or even post up. His three-point shooting was a weakness, 29% from his career, but Wade still managed to lead his team to a championship, Finals MVP, and then adapt his game for two more titles when LeBron James joined the team.

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon

Birth Date: January 21, 1963

Career Stats: 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 3.1 BPG

Awards: 2x NBA Champion (1994, 1995), 2x Finals MVP (1994, 1995), MVP (1994), 12x All-Star (1985-1990, 1992-1997), 6x All-NBA First Team (1987-1989, 1993, 1994, 1997), 3x All-NBA Second Team (1986, 1990, 1996), 3x All-NBA Third Team (1991, 1995, 1999), 2x Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994), 5x All-Defensive First Team (1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994), 4x All-Defensive Second Team (1985, 1991, 1996, 1997), 2x Rebounding Leader (1989, 1990), 3x Blocks Leader (1990, 1991, 1993), NBA 50th Anniversary Team, NBA 75th Anniversary Team, No. 34 retired by Rockets., Hall of Famer

The only player to do more on the court was Hakeem Olajuwon. You can look at the extra title Wade won in Miami, but Olajuwon owns one more Finals MVP, as well as a regular-season MVP. Olajuwon also made the All-NBA Team 12 times compared to Wade’s eight, while winning two Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Olajuwon is ranked one of the best offensive and defensive players of all time.

Olajuwon was an outstanding rebounder that led the league twice, as well as a shot-blocker, something he did four times. Olajuwon is the only player in NBA history to record more than 200 blocks and 200 steals in the same season. He is also the only center to rank among the top ten all-time in steals. Offensively, he had a soft shooting touch around the basket, while his nimble footwork around the post was hard to guard. He is one of only four players to have recorded a quadruple-double, dating back to the 1973-1974 season. Out of all the players born in January, Olajuwon is the best. 


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