There have been some amazing players that have played for the Rockets over the years, with big names such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Moses Malone competing at a Hall of Fame level for the franchise. But other star players such as James Harden, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming have had a great impact on the franchise despite not playing in Finals appearances or winning championships. But where do these stars rank among the greatest scorers for the Rockets?
We have ranked the top-10 scorers in Rockets history based on PPG, to get an indication on which players had the most offensive impact in their time with the franchise. A list of scorers with total points will also be listed, indicating which superstar players had the longest impact with the team on the offensive end.
10. Clyde Drexler - 19.0 PPG
(4 Seasons, 1995-1998)
Clyde Drexler has played for 2 franchises over his career: Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. Drexler was a superstar with Portland for years, completing 11.5 seasons with the team as one of their greatest players. In the 1995 season, Drexler was traded 41 games into his season for a chance to play with Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets.
Drexler would play 35 games with the Rockets, averaging 21.4 PPG and eventually winning a championship with the team. Over the next 3 seasons, Drexler averaged over 18.0 PPG and would retire as an NBA champion thanks to his stint with the Rockets and as one of their top-ten scorers.
9. Yao Ming - 19.0 PPG
(8 Seasons, 2003-2011)
Yao Ming’s impact transcended the NBA because of his global impact on sports. Ming brought an entire generation of fans into the American market because as a basketball player, the 7’6” center was truly unique. Unfortunately for Yao, injuries cut short what could have been an all-time great career.
Yao played his entire career with the Rockets, getting drafted No. 1 overall in the 2002 Draft and making 8 All-Star Teams. With Yao’s post moves and silky touch from the perimeter, he would become one of the top-ten scorers in Rockets history and earn his place in the esteemed Hall of Fame.
8. Don Kojis - 19.6 PPG
(3 Seasons, 1968-1970)
Don Kojis was a 6’5” small forward who played for a total of 6 teams over his career, including playing 3 years with the San Diego Rockets between 1968 and 1970. The forward averaged 19.7 PPG and 10.3 RPG in 69 total appearances during his first season, before dropping a career-high 22.5 PPG the following season.
Kojis would hit his peak, as he dropped his scoring average to 15.3 PPG before getting traded two more times before his retirement. The small forward had his best years, by far, with the Rockets, and his scoring streak during his first 2 seasons with the team makes him their 8th greatest scorer.
7. Ralph Sampson - 19.7 PPG
(5 Seasons, 1984-1988)
One of the greatest players to play for the Houston Rockets, Ralph Sampson had a terrific 5-year span with the Houston Rockets. The 7’4” center was dominant, averaging 19.7 PPG and 10.5 RPG with the franchise and earning important accolades such as Rookie of the Year and also All-Star Game MVP.
Sampson made 4 straight All-Star teams with Houston, making All-NBA once, and was a dominant low post presence. At his size, Sampson was a terrific athlete and was a great all-around player. He was so good that the Rockets kept the big man when they drafted Hakeem Olajuwon to form a dynamic “Twin Towers” duo. As a Hall of Fame talent, Sampson was a gem for the Rockets.
6. Elvin Hayes - 20.6 PPG
(7 Seasons, 1969-1972, 1982-1984)
The Rockets made a habit of drafting big men with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and Elvin Hayes joins the list. The 6’9” big man could cover both power forward and center positions and was truly one of the franchise’s greatest players. In his rookie season, Hayes led the NBA in scoring at 28.4 RPG and would become rebound-leader two separate times.
Over 7 seasons, Hayes averaged 20.6 PPG and 12.2 RPG with the San Diego/Houston Rockets and had 4 straight years of pulling down over 14 RPG in his first stint with the team. Hayes would become a Rocket during the last 3 seasons of his career, starting at age 36 and retiring by age 39. Sampson was one of the Rockets' greatest talents because of his 4 All-Star seasons with the team to start his career in the NBA.
5. Kevin Martin - 22.3 PPG
(3 Seasons, 2010-2012)
Even if Kevin Martin was a stop-gap for a Rockets franchise that was searching for their next superstar player, the shooting guard was a terrific scorer. Martin averaged 22.3 PPG over 2.5 seasons with the Rockets after getting acquired with less than 30 games to play in the 2010 season. The scoring guard was used in the trade for superstar James Harden just a few years later but was still a great addition to the team.
Martin was a great scorer for most of his career, but his first full season with the Rockets was a special one as he dropped 23.5 PPG. The 6’7” guard made no apologies for his desire to get buckets because playmaking was hardly on his mind. As a result, Kevin Martin is a top-5 scorer in Houston Rockets history and he certainly wouldn’t mind that.
4. Hakeem Olajuwon - 22.5 PPG
(17 Seasons, 1985-2001)
The best player to ever play for the Rockets by a huge margin, Hakeem Olajuwon was not only the best post-scorer in NBA history but also one of the league’s greatest defensive players. “The Dream” was not only a special talent but a championship superstar. Hakeem won 2 straight NBA championships in 1994 and 1995 and won both Finals MVPs. As a leader of men and Hall of Fame talent, Hakeem was one of a kind.
It is not surprising to see Hakeem Olajuwon among the greatest Rockets scorers because he was a machine for most of his career. Thanks to the “Dream Shake” move and an efficient jumper, Hakeem averaged over 20 PPG for 13 straight seasons and made the All-Star Team twice. When looking at the all-time greatest players, it is hard not to place Olajuwon among the top-12.
3. Tracy McGrady - 22.7 PPG
(6 Seasons, 2005-2010)
One of the most spectacular players of his generation, Tracy McGrady is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with an incredible resume that includes 2 scoring titles, 7 All-Star Teams, and 7 All-NBA Team appearances. Starting his career with the Toronto Raptors, McGrady would become a 2-time scoring champion with the Orlando Magic before getting traded to the Rockets before the 2005 season.
McGrady was already one of the best players in the league by the time he got to Houston, and his partnership with All-Star Yao Ming was supposed to lead the team to the championship. But injuries derailed both of these stars, although McGrady had some incredible moments with the team including a 13-point performance in 33 seconds which helped the Rockets overcome the Spurs in a regular-season Texas showdown.
2. Moses Malone - 24.0 PPG
(6 Seasons, 1977-1982)
While Hakeem Olajuwon was the greatest player to ever play for the Houston Rockets, Moses Malone is second. The legendary center made his reputation as a ferocious offensive rebounder with the team, averaging 6.5 offensive rebounds per game during his stint. A massive player with a limitless motor, Malone led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1981 after averaging 27.8 PPG and 14.8 RPG.
That was the first time a team made the Finals without a winning record. Solidifying himself as one of the game’s all-time great centers, Moses was the most feared rebounder during his time with the Rockets and made it look effortless when he scored the ball. The Hall of Famer also hit his peak in his last season with Houston, dropping 31.1 PPG and 14.7 RPG.
1. James Harden - 29.6 PPG
(9 Seasons, 2013-2021)
Arguably the greatest isolation scorer in the history of the league, James Harden went on a tear as soon as he touched base in Houston. The Beard was 6th Man of the Year averaging 16.8 PPG before he dropped 25.9 PPG as a full-time starter with the Rockets. Harden showed the ability to run the offense on his own and would make 8 straight All-Star appearances with the franchise. Of course, The Beard did it in his own way.
James Harden took full advantage of the paradigm shift of the NBA, using his ball-handling skills and basketball IQ to draw fouls whenever he wanted and earn easy points from the stripe. He also later developed his patented step-back three, a shot that terrorized defenses for years. Harden never won a championship with the Rockets thanks to a juggernaut Golden State Warriors team, but he is the best pure scorer in Houston’s history.
Most Points In Houston Rockets History
Here are the ten players with the most total points in Houston Rockets history:
1. Hakeem Olajuwon 26,511
2. James Harden 18,365
3. Calvin Murphy 17,949
4. Rudy Tomjanovich 13,383
5. Elvin Hayes 11,762
6. Moses Malone 11,119
7. Yao Ming 9,247
8. Robert Reid 8,823
9. Mike Newlin 8,480
10. Otis Thorpe 8,177