Okafor’s Streak Is NBA’s Longest In 35 Years
Okafor's 19 straight games were four more than Shaquille O'Neal's 15 during the 1992-93 season with Orlando and nine more than San Antonio's Tim Duncan's streak of 10 during the 1997-98 campaign. It was the longest streak for a rookie since 12-time NBA All-Star Elvin Hayes registered 60 straight from October 30, 1968 to February 22, 1969.
“He’s a special player,” said perennial All-Star center Alonzo Mourning, who has been known as one of the top defensive big men throughout his career. “When I’m done with the game, he’s one of the players whose career I’m going to follow. I see signs of myself in him when I first got into the league.”
Okafor entered the week as the top rebounder in the Eastern Conference with 11.6 rebounds per game. Miami’s O’Neal (10.4) and Cleveland's Drew Gooden (10.2) are ranked second and third, respectively. Okafor is currently third overall in the NBA and first among all rookies.
"To think that he's not going to be a perennial All-Star after what you've seen would be remiss," said Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. "I think he will be that. He's a tenacious, tenacious guy. If you rebound like that, you're getting your team the ball. If you're getting your team the ball, that's what it takes to win. And he blocks shots. He's more skilled offensively than many would have thought, particularly shooting the ball."
Okafor also leads the Bobcats in scoring with 15.8 points and has scored in double-figures in 21 consecutive games, including nine 20-plus point performances.
“Emeka Okafor is a definite star in the making in this league," said Houston's Tracy McGrady, after Okafor averaged 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds in Charlotte's sweep of the Rockets. "He’s awesome. He’s got game and he’s fundamentally sound. I haven’t played with anyone that plays like him. He’s something special.”
Following is a list of active players who recorded nine or more consecutive double-doubles in their rookie season.
19 - Emeka Okafor (11/21/04 - 1/1/05)
15 - Shaquille O’Neal (12/22/92 - 1/26/93)
14 - Shaquille O’Neal (2/8/93 - 3/7/93)
11 - Shaquille O’Neal (11/6/92 - 11/28/92)
10 - Tim Duncan (3/8/98 - 3/25/98)
9 - Dikembe Mutombo (2/12/92 - 2/28/92)