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Houston Rockets Defense to Depend on Success of Offense

Apr 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) on the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) on the bench against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston Rockets new head coach Mike D’Antoni believes an efficient offense will lead to better defense.

Houston Rockets new head coach Mike D’Antoni hopes the team’s defense will improve as players find his new offense more rewarding.

“I’ve always found when people are comfortable offensively, if they like their roles on the team, their energy goes up on defense and you become a better defensive team,” D’Antoni is quoted saying by the Houston Chronicle. “There’s no secret strategy about how to defend somebody. There’s heart and soul and work.”

D’Antoni’s logic is one of the reasons he is considered an offensive coach. To act as though satisfaction on offense is enough to make up for a team’s lack of defensive strategy is the mindset of a coach whose past teams have had sub par defenses.

Even when D’Antoni’s teams have been at their best offensively, they have been underwhelming defensively. The Phoenix Suns team that went to the Western Conference Finals back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006 ranked 19th and 20th in terms of defensive efficiency.

Had the Suns been a top ten defensive team those seasons, perhaps D’Antoni would have two championships under his belt. Instead, he has none.

Every team that has won a championship since the 2006-2007 season has been a top ten defensive team, with a good portion of those teams falling within the top five.

Make no mistake, in order for a team to win a championship, they have to be solid defensively, and that is one of the reasons D’Antoni has yet to do it.

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Perhaps I am reading too much into D’Antoni’s words, however. Perhaps D’Antoni means that producing a solid offense will go a long ways in helping the players buy in to a suitable defense. Or perhaps D’Antoni means that playing efficient offense will give the Rockets an advantage when the possession turns around and they have to play defense.

Having ranked 5th in the league in turnovers last season, the Rockets often put their defense in a bad position by forfeiting the ball to the other team. If the Rockets were to capitalize on their possessions more often, it would allow them additional time to set their defense after made baskets.

Being an offensive minded coach, I imagine D’Antoni’s first order of business will be to figure out how to cut down on turnovers.

Still, the Rockets will need more than just offense to improve their defense. Being among the worst defensive teams in the league last season, they will need a major upgrade.

The man with the plan to fix the Rockets defense: Jeff Bzdelik https://t.co/o5wNTqEONp via @HoustonChron

— Reid Laymance (@ReidLaymance) June 3, 2016

While I do believe a better offense can help the Rockets to put forth more effort on defense, it will be defensive strategy that makes the Rockets a top ten team defensively.

Seeing that D’Antoni is unlikely to help the Rockets make that drastic of an improvement, Houston will rely on the defensive expertise of new assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik. Let’s hope he is up for the task.

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