The Rockets have made a step up this season. After making the playoffs while posting a .500 record last year, they’re one of the most dangerous teams in the league this time around.
James Harden was a good basketball player before the Rockets hired Mike D’Antoni, but he’s even better now. With the new coach’s leadership, his game allows players like Clint Capela and Ryan Anderson to live up to their full potential. They fit perfectly alongside the Beard in Houston’s Three-or-Dunk offense. After trying to put several ball-dominant point guards in the lineup with Harden, the Rockets found that Patrick Beverley, with his tenacity and adaptability, was already a perfect fit.
Simply put, the Rockets have filled each position with the the right man for the job. Now, it’s paying hefty dividends for the NBA’s biggest surprise in 2016-2017.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
After burnouts with teams on both coasts, Mike D’Antoni has found a place to call home in Houston. Bill Reiter of CBS Sports writes that when the Knicks chose to keep Carmelo Anthony over D’Antoni a few years ago, they made the wrong decision.
"The fact is Anthony has been a disappointment in his career. Now in his 15th season, he has made a conference finals only once, has a painfully low winning percentage in the postseason and has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting only twice and never higher than third. … Yet D’Antoni has managed to be a coach of the year, made a conference finals and helped mold today’s NBA through his singular view of how offense should be played."
Another player who has turned out to be a perfect fit with the Rockets is Montrezl Harrell. The 22-year-old has been tasked with filling in for Capela during his absence, and has done so admirably. His energy is infectious, but he’s bringing more to the table than just that. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen argues that he’s learning quickly and has developed into a very good NBA player.
"For Harrell, who chases loose balls and runs the floor with a hair-on-fire intensity that overcomes his playing center in the NBA at 6-7ish, the term [energy player] ignores the skills he brings. In his case, that has meant stepping into the Rockets’ void in the middle since the injury to Clint Capela and providing a remarkable finisher around the rim as a starter or reserve."
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The Rockets might have some luck to thank for how well this year has gone, but luck only goes so far. GM Daryl Morey is the mastermind behind Houston’s success, and he’s proved that he’s the right man for his job. However, he isn’t only interested in basketball, according to Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle. One of his biggest passions is musical theater, something that seems both wild and yet perfectly fitting.
He almost became an investor in “Hamilton.” Before the show became a sensation, Morey introduced himself to the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and gifted him a Jeremy Lin jersey. They attended Brooklyn Nets games together. Morey wanted in on this “Hamilton” project he was hearing so much about. In the end, he was unwilling to put up the seven-figure funds the show garnered from other backers.
Still, Morey’s connection got him in to “Hamilton” – famously the hardest ticket to come by the last two years – four times.
In a myriad of ways, this year’s Houston team has been the best it could possibly be, and that’s largely due to Morey’s analytics. He figured out how to assemble a perfect new-age basketball team, and did so.
The 3rd seed Rockets take on the 4th seed Clippers tomorrow night, and have an opportunity to further prove themselves a real threat. P-Bev will return to the lineup and should be ready to make Chris Paul‘s night not fun.