With the Houston Rockets likely to hire a new head coach during the offseason, they will need to do their best to find a candidate that matches their set of criteria.
After a terrible 2015-16 NBA season, the Houston Rockets will undergo significant changes this offseason, starting with the hiring of a new head coach.
As much as bringing in a superstar player changes the face of a franchise, so does brining in a new head coach. While a franchise player may have more of an impact in terms of team success, a good coach will change almost all aspects of the team’s infrastructure– from culture to strategy.
Because hiring a new head coach will be such an integral part of the Rockets’ future success, owner Leslie Alexander and manager Daryl Morey will develop a strict criteria as to what they are looking for, then do their best to find a candidate that best matches their vision.
Defense: With the Rockets having been among the worst defensive teams in the league this season, it is likely that the Rockets will look for a head coach that specializes in defense. There are definitely areas in which the Rockets can improve of offense, but they are capable of being a solid offensive team without a great offensive system. As far as defense goes, the Rockets are in need of a serious makeover.
Having ranked 6th in the league in defensive efficiency during the 2014-15 season, the Rockets fell into the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency during their 2015-16 campaign.
While many fingers have pointed towards James Harden as to why the Rockets have struggled on defense, the fact of the matter is that defense is a team effort, and as a collective, the Rockets have failed to perform on the defensive end.
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Leadership: The Rockets need a bonafide leader– someone who is not only capable of being a leader himself, but who also sees it as his duty to produce leaders out of his followers.
A lot of blame has fallen on Harden this season. Some deserved, some not. I think it’s fair to say that if Harden were to set a better example, the Rockets would be an improved team. But that goes without saying for any team’s best player.
In my opinion, Harden isn’t a bad leader, he’s just doesn’t seem to be a natural born leader. Harden has never behaved in a manner that would hurt the Rockets, but he has also never stepped up to become the type of leader a championship caliber team needs to have.
Because of Harden’s lack of leadership, it is important that the Rockets hire a head coach who is capable of teaching Harden how to be a better leader.
Offensive Strategy: It’s been a long time since the Rockets have looked like an X’s and O’s kind of team. Since the Rockets let go of former head coach Rick Adelman, they haven’t had much of an offensive system.
For the past four years, the majority of the offense has involved a lot of Harden driving and kicking. A lot of times, Harden’s offensive production is sufficient, but it would go a long way in improving the Rockets’ already potent offense if they were able to score points without having to rely on Harden to do everything.
Proven Track Record: Last but not least, the Rockets need to try to find a coach who has had some success around the league. There may be solid candidates out there that have yet to have a shot at running their own team, but the Rockets have to find somebody who has already got it done.
With superstar talent in James Harden, the Rockets are positioned to add a few more pieces and win as soon as possible. In order to buy in to a new system quickly, the players will need to be able to believe in a coach who has got it done at the highest level.
With Tom Thibodeau nearing final agreement on a Minnesota deal, Jeff Van Gundy remains Houston's top co-candidate alongside Scotty Brooks.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 20, 2016
What the Rockets need more than anything is a change in culture. In order for Houston to not replicate their disappointing 2015-16 season, they will need to hire a disciplinarian who is able to implement an effective defense and teach the team about the effort it takes to win a title.
With the Rockets winning their first game of their series against Golden State Thursday night, everything I’ve mentioned may have been spoken prematurely. It will be at least two more games until the Rockets officially begin their evaluation of the head coach position.
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