Fun With Stats: Hakeem Ojaluwon


When thinking about Hakeem Ojaluwon, the first thing that probably pops in your head is defense. Afterall, he is the all time leader in blocks with 3830 and eighth in all time steals with 2162. You may also think of The Dream Shake, Hakeem’s patented spin move that confounded defenders for 18 years and contributed heavily to his 22 points per game career average. Hiding between the columns of Hakeem’s career statistics page is another interesting bit of information. By combining offensive rebounds and steals, then dividing by games, we can calculate his possessions created per game, or PCPG.

The value of a possession is clear. The more possessions you can create per game, the more field goal you attempt and the fewer your opponents are allowed. Hakeem, it turns out, was a standout player when it comes to creating possessions. Hakeem’s career PCPG is an even 5. In 1985-86, he generated a whopping 6.87 possessions per game. That was the highest of his career. His lowest came in 1990-00, his last season in Houston. He generated 2.41 possessions per game.

Compared to his contemporary rivals, Hakeem’s numbers surpass them all. The highest and lowest season average included in parenthesis.
Hakeem Olajuwon – 5 PCPG (6.87, 2.41)
David Robinson – 4.53 PCPG (6.16,3.36)
Shaquille O’Neal – 4.28 PCPG (5.68, 2.63)
Patrick Ewing – 3.29 PCPG (4.26, 2.85)

When compared to the top five all time leaders in offensive rebounding, Hakeem ranks near the middle.
Moses Malone – 5.9 PCPG (8.12, 1.29)
Charles Barkley – 5.51 PCPG (7.49, 4.25)
Dennis Rodman – 5.42 PCPG (7.21, 2.61)
Hakeem Olajuwon – 5 PCPG (6.87, 2.41)
Buck Williams – 4.29 PCPG (5.38, 2.32)
Robert Parish – 3.61 PCPG (5.26, 1.12)

Get off my Kool-Aid, Fool.

Get off my Kool-Aid, Fool.

When compared to the top five all time leaders in steals, Hakeem blew the leaders away. None averaged at least 4 PCPG over their careers. This makes sense, since 4 of the 5 were guards (Stockton, Jordan, Cheeks, Payton, and Pippen), a position that does not get many offensive rebounding opportunities.

Hakeem Olajuwon was clearly one of the greatest of all time at generating possessions for his team. Hakeem surpassed his rivals, Olympic teammates, and “50 Greatest” cohorts Robinson, Ewing, and O’Neal. Furthermore, he, Barkley, and Malone are the only players to average 5 or more possessions created per game and over 20 points per game for their careers. Just another reason Hakeem was “The Dream” to Rockets fans, and a nightmare for everyone else.


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