The Houston Rockets enter a new era with the hiring of veteran head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Filling the league’s last remaining head coaching vacancy Thursday, the Houston Rockets finalized a deal with veteran head coach Mike D’Anotni.
After weeks of speculation, in which most people believed Jeff Van Gundy was the top candidate, the Rockets finished their coaching search by hiring D’Antoni instead.
D’Antoni comes to Houston by way of Philadelphia where he spent some time as the associate head coach of the 76ers. Before that, D’Antoni spent time as a head coach in Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles.
The majority of D’Antoni’s success came in Phoenix where he popularized his Seven Seconds or Less offense– a type of play which has inspired much of the league’s fast paced oriented offenses we see today. The D’Antoni led Suns made it to back-to-back Western Conference Finals appearances in 2005 and 2006.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 26, 2016
Since leaving the Suns, D’Antoni has yet to have the same type of success. In both New York and Los Angeles, D’Antoni had a difficult time implementing his offense. Interestingly, while in Los Angeles, D’Antoni coached Rockets center Dwight Howard.
While many people criticize D’Antoni for his lack of success after leaving Phoenix, I think it’s fair to say that both New York and L.A. would have been difficult situations for any head coach as both franchises continue to struggle.
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Aside from citing his recent failures, many people are unsure of D’Antoni’s defensive mindedness. It is without question that D’Antoni is known for his offense instead of his defense. The problem with that is that while the Rockets ranked within the top ten in offense this past season, they ranked within the bottom third in terms of defense.
Rockets management will have to make sure to hire assistant coaches who are able to pick up the defensive slack. Unfortunately, as bad as the Rockets were on defense this past season, that might not even be enough.
Fair or unfair, D’Antoni’s peformance as the Rockets head coach will likely be measured by the success of the Rockets’ defense. With the Rockets’ offense already being somewhat potent, it will only get better with D’Antoni at the helm.
Rockets fans underestimate the problems the team had offensively. No structured systematic approach. Was supposed to be a motion offense.
— Rockets Insider (@Rockets_Insider) May 26, 2016
That being said, D’Antoni’s ability to transform the Rockets’ offense shouldn’t be underplayed. Despite the Rockets finding success on offense in recent years, much of that has been due to the superior talent of James Harden.
Harden is often accused of a being ball dominant guard who is unable to play within the confines of a fluid offense. In truth, the Rockets lacked a strong offensive system during the team’s Kevin McHale years. The team’s two options on offense were give the ball to Harden and let him create or fail to score points while Harden sits on the bench. Under D’Anotni, Harden and the Rockets offense are likely to become even better.
All in all, the Rockets hiring D’Antoni is an interesting move. I still wish the Rockets would have went with Jeff Van Gundy, but I am delighted that the Kevin McHale era has come and gone.
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