The Rockets had plenty of offensive firepower last season. One thing they lacked, though, was a high-level defense.
The Houston Rockets have made it a goal to have a top 10 defense next season. It was a goal for the team last year as well, but that did not end up happening. They finished 18th overall in Defensive Rating and looked lost on at times on that end of the court.
However, this offseason was a good one for the team. They brought in several talented defensive players that will help the Rockets. The team should be able to have a top 10 defense, at the very least.
How the Defense Improved This Summer
The Rockets had several key signings/trades this offseason so far that have improved the defense dramatically. First of all, the team traded for perennial All-Defensive team member Chris Paul. His addition will make the loss of Beverley feel not as bad. He will be able to defend the other team’s best guard, much like what Pat did.
The Rockets also signed P.J. Tucker to a multi-year deal. His defense and 3-point shooting were the main reasons why he was pursued by Houston. He will come off the bench and can guard multiple positions, but mostly wings.
One of the most underrated signings of the offseason so far was locking up Luc Mbah a Moute for the veteran’s minimum. He is a fantastic defender who can guard everyone from wings to big men. Just take a look at this incredible defense by Luc:
Here, he guards Damian Lillard and locks him up:
What you have just witnessed is someone who can guard players like Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge. He is extremely valuable and will help the Rockets tremendously next season.
The Rockets also signed Tarik Black to play the third center role on the team. He is a fairly solid defender who will play that role well when Nene is resting.
The Rockets Can Now Defend Great Teams
The Rockets now have three players that can all guard (or at least somewhat contain) players like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute can all take a shot at defending great players in a playoff series. While they will still get their buckets, it will certainly be harder for them to do so next season against the Rockets.
James Harden also may become an improved defender with some offensive load taken off his shoulders. He was definitely better last season, but this year he can take another leap forward. This topic is probably deserving of a post of its own, but if the Beard is all in on defense he can help the team even more.
*All stats via Basketball-Reference*