Defense and Culture must remain as the Houston Rockets top priorities in their search for a new head coach.
With rumors adding up that the Houston Rockets are set to interview a number of interesting candidates for their head coaching vacancy, the Rockets must make sure to find a coach who emphasizes defense and culture.
Ranking 8th in the league last season in offensive efficiency, the Rockets are without serious issues on that side of the ball. While it would be great to improve on offense, the Rockets main focus should be bettering their defense.
During their 2015-2016 season, the Rockets ranked 21st in defensive efficiency and 26th in opponent’s points allowed. Of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs, seven of them rank within the top twelve in the league on defense, and none of them rank within the bottom third.
In order for a team to make a deep postseason run, they must be solid on defense.
Despite making it to the postseason, the Rockets are among the league’s least disciplined teams. They were able to find a limited amount of success because of James Harden‘s elite offensive talent. Without Harden’s offensive skill set, the Rockets would have lost many more games.
Because of the Rockets’ lack of discipline, it is essential that management hire a coach who is going to be able to establish a strict culture.
Vogel runs systems, can coach D, has dealt with egos and sticks to his guns. #Rockets should give him a hard look. Few big names left.
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) May 5, 2016
For that reason, I believe Jeff Van Gundy is the right candidate for the job. Over the past couple of days, however, there have been a number of other names mentioned– some that the Rockets should take into serious consideration, others that they should not.
Among the candidates being mentioned, former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel is the most interesting. Vogel’s Pacers ranked within the top ten in defensive efficiency each year he served as the head coach, including a couple seasons in which the Pacers ranked as the number one defense in the NBA.
To acquire a defensive minded coach of Vogel’s caliber would go a long way in helping the Rockets return to elite status. Vogel’s one knock, like Van Gundy, is that he isn’t near as good on offense as he is on defense. During his time in Indiana, the Pacers ranked within the top half in terms of offensive efficiency only once.
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Other names being mentioned as potential head coaches for the Rockets are Sam Cassell, Kenny Smith, Mike D’Antoni, and Vinny Del Negro. My problem with all of those candidates is that they either don’t have enough experience enforcing discipline, or they are offensive minded coaches.
Again, it would be great to improve on offense, but the Rockets need a coach whose main focus is defense. He must also be capable of instilling a culture that maintains discipline.
Though the Rockets allegedly have a extensive list of coaching candidates, there remain two men who are most qualified for the job– Jeff Van Gundy and Frank Vogel.
Lets hope the Rockets make the right decision.
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