Yesterday, it was announced that the Houston Rockets will be without their defensive coach for next season and beyond.
The Houston Rockets took a huge step forward last season, partially in part to their defense. The team could always score the ball, but last year’s defense was something we haven’t seen from a Rockets team in a little while.
A large factor in that was the help of the defensive coach and specialist Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik was a huge part of the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies in recent years and came over to the Rockets before the start of the 2016-17 season to help out offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni.
In his first year with the team, the defense didn’t really improve a ton, but there was still a noticeable difference at times. The Rockets improved from the No. 22 spot in defensive rating to the No. 18 spot.
Last year, though, there was a huge difference. The team adopted a switching defensive scheme with the additions of players like Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker and had quite a bit of success. They finished the season with the No. 6 defense in the league and that continued into the playoffs. The play on that end of the court was one of the main reasons why the Rockets were able to keep up with the all-time great Warriors.
Unfortunately, he is retiring
It was announced last night that Jeff Bzdelik is, unfortunately, retiring from the NBA. That isn’t unfortunate for him, of course, but it is for the Rockets and their defense. We wish him the best in his retirement!
He will be missed
The Rockets will definitely miss the defensive genius of Bzdelik. He took a team notorious for bad defense and made them extremely strong on that end of the court. His impact in practice could be tough to overcome.
How much the team will miss him is still to be determined. The defensive responsibilities, as Adrian Wojnarowski noted in his announcement of Bzdelik’s retirement, will fall to multiple coaches:
Bzdelik's departure so close to the start of training camp means his responsibilities will likely be spread over Mike D'Antoni's staff, with assistant Roy Rogers undoubtedly taking on a greater role with the defense. https://t.co/jXaE28vcBB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 17, 2018
The Rockets, for the most part, have a somewhat similar team returning from last season. Many of the players should be able to remember the defensive schemes that won them games under Bzdelik’s coaching. Players like Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker can have roles in teaching the new guys like Carmelo Anthony and James Ennis what they can do to be successful on that end.
The coaching staff that is taking over this responsibility have a great task in front of them, especially so close to training camp. Bzdelik leaving is a huge hole for this team, but it’s always next man up, even for the coaches. Let’s hope the team can respond with similar defensive schemes and results.