Houston Rockets Daily Rockets Science: Welcome Mike D’Antoni


In today’s Daily Rocket Science, the Houston Rockets formally announce Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach. Like it or not Red Nation, it’s official. D’Antoni is the newest head coach for the Houston Rockets.

In case you been living under a rock the past few weeks, the Houston Rockets have finally ended their seven months adventure for a new head coach. Despite having Mark Jackson, Frank Vogel, and even a possible reunion with Jeff Van Gundy. For some odd reason, Houston felt that Mike D’Antoni was the best available candidate for the team.

Regardless of the negative backlash received by many, D’Antoni’s hiring was made official during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, June. According to Johnathon Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander used the press conference as an excellent platform to address the criticism following D’Antoni’s hiring.

"“We felt we want to win all the time, every year, try for a championship at all times. We wanted somebody who really was a master of the craft. — We with the Rockets, with James Harden, who is a great, great player, didn’t want to go through that experience. The NBA today is ball movement and speed. Mike is one of the real experts at that. He will be able to put guys in position to win and better their game.”"

No one ever denied the success D’Antoni had throughout his coaching career. If one was to take away his dreadful two seasons with the Lakers, he is one of the top coaches of the 2000s. After all D’Antoni is a former coach of the year winner(2005).

However, there is one issue that has plagued his career, and it’s the number one problem the Rockets face all season. All of his teams struggled on the defensive end. I feel like a broken record player repeatedly saying, “D’Antoni’s poor defensive strategies are the reasons his Phoenix Suns never won a championship.”

For hope in the Rockets defense, next season falls into the hands of their new assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik. According to ESPN reporter Calvin Watkins, Bzdelik believes he has the perfect formula to improve Houston’s defense.

"All five guys have to be committed. It takes all five guys to get a stop. The goal is to have teams take tough, contested [2-pointers] outside the paint and inside the arc. In order to do that, you have to have a great defensive transition because we can’t be one-way runners. Take away easy baskets so they can’t get a coast-to-coast layup, they can’t get a layup off one pass or two passes. They got to have more than two passes and get that ball swung from one side to the other side, and players clearly have to know the scheme and be held accountable, as we are held accountable by all of you."

Of all the criticism the Rockets faced, few critics believes that D’Antoni can recreate his run-and-gun success in Houston. According to Alykhan Bijani of Hardwood Paroxysm, James Harden will thrive in D’Antoni’s offense.

New Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni sparked a revolution during his time with the Phoenix Suns. The NBA moved towards more spread pick-and-roll and away from the post as the primary scoring threat. Teams around the league play much faster now, relentlessly attacking and going downhill to create multiple high-percentage opportunities.

Ball movement, player movement, key element recognition, spacing, and offensive flow and execution define offenses in the modern NBA. But D’Antoni’s concepts on offense also give superstars free reign to be much more effective and efficient, which is where James Harden enters the conversation. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Verticalmentioned that incorporating Harden into his offense was “impossible to resist” for D’Antoni — high praise for arguably the best shooting guard in the NBA.

It appears James Harden is equally thrilled as he appeared on Jason ‘The Jet” Terry’s first episode of Sirius Radio singing D’Antoni’s praises as Jonathan Feigen of the Chronicle covered.

"“ “ That’s extra motivation for me to come back and be a better basketball player overall. I’m not down on myself. I know what I bring to the table. That’s another reason why I’m more excited about what we have next year as far as coaching plans and players we have coming in. More motivation for me. I want to get back in the gym, better myself and everything will work itself out."

If nothing else it appears Harden is well aware of how he was perceived this past season, so his dedication to improve is a real positive for the team. He even seems excited about the new defensive coaches.

So that’s it for today,  the Mike D’Antoni era has officially begun. Welcome to Clutch City Mike D’Antoni!

Note: Space City Scoop posted coverage of both D’Antoni’s press conference and the media interview with Jeff Bzdelik those links can be found here and here.

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