As we continue to loot at the top 50 players in Baltimore sports history, this week we are changing things up a little with two separate articles. Numbers 10 through six will be released today, and five through one will be released tomorrow … so let’s go:
10. Elvin Hayes, PF, Baltimore Bullets
As a rookie with the San Diego Rockets, Hayes led the NBA in scoring with 28.4 points per game, averaged 17.1 rebounds per game, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. Hayes’ scoring average is the fifth best all-time for a rookie, and he remains the last rookie to lead the NBA in scoring average. In Hayes’ second season, he led the NBA in rebounding, becoming the first player other than Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain to lead the category since 1957 (Chamberlain was injured during much of the season). In Hayes’ third season, 1970–71, he scored a career best 28.7 points per game. In 1971, the Rockets moved to Houston, enabling Hayes to play in the city of his college triumphs.
In 1972, Hayes was traded to the Baltimore Bullets, where he teamed with Hall-Of-Famer Wes Unseld to form a fierce and dominating frontcourt combination. The 18.1 rebounds per game Hayes averaged in 1974 is the third highest rebounding average of any NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain retired in 1973. Hayes and Unseld lead the Bullets to three NBA Finals and a title in 78 over the Seattle SuperSonics. He shined brightly both in the playoffs and the regular season. During the Bullets championship run, he averaged 21.8 points and 12.1 rebounds in 21 playoff games.
In 1981, Hayes was traded to the Houston Rockets. He closed out his career with the Rockets in 1984. Hayes had a career scoring average of 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He played at least 80 games in every season. He ranks fourth in NBA history in total rebounds with 16,279, only behind Chamberlain, Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He also ranks eighth in NBA history in total career points with 27,313.