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Rockets: Mike D’Antoni calls P.J. Tucker ‘one of the best players in the league’

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: Head Coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets speaks to the media after Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: Head Coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets speaks to the media after Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters at media day that P.J. Tucker is one of the best players in the league at his position.

Like the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers, almost everyone also had their eyes on the Houston Rockets on media day.

Last year, the Rockets were clearly the second best team in the NBA. They probably would’ve won a championship and solidified themselves as the league’s best team if Chris Paul could have avoided an untimely hamstring injury.

Everyone wants to know what Houston’s starting lineup will look like before the regular season. Specifically, we want to know if Carmelo Anthony will be a starter or a reserve and if he’s content with taking a bench role. Anthony has stated that he’s willing to do whatever to help the team win a championship, even if that means joining the second unit.

Related Story. Carmelo Anthony willing to do ‘whatever’ to help Rockets win

The Rockets probably won’t settle on a clear starting lineup until after training camp. Melo will have to compete for the starting power forward role with P.J. Tucker, who is one of the league’s best power forwards. Well, he’s one of the league’s elite players at least in Coach D’Antoni’s mind, which is the only opinion that really matters for Melo and his teammates. Mike D’Antoni talked about all of the areas in which Tucker excels in at media day, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

“To me, P.J. Tucker is one of the best players in the league. I know a lot of people will go ‘whoaaaa.’ He was (ranked) like 80-something. I don’t know what it was. You’re kidding me. This guy plays maybe the best defense in the league. That’s half the game right there. He might be the best. If not, he’s one of the top five. Now you got a guy that shot since he started 42 percent from 3s, 47 in the playoffs. Really? There’s a lot of guys that shot better than that?

“A guy that will get every loose ball, every chemistry thing, every play he’s playing all out. I don’t know how we judge people. What is the criteria for being a great player? That is a great player.”

Is Tucker really one of the best players in the league? Well, that might be a stretch, but everything else that Coach D’Antoni said is true.

Tucker does go after every loose ball. He is going 100 percent on every single possession. He is one of the biggest reasons the Rockets were a top 10 defensive team last season. Tucker has never been known for his shooting, but he did shoot 37.1 percent from 3-point range in the regular season and he shot a sizzling 46.7 percent from 3-point range in the postseason.

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Tucker is one of those players whose value goes far beyond the stat sheet. Anyone who understands the game of basketball and watches Tuck can see that. Is he among the league’s elite players like Chris Paul and James Harden? Probably not. But there’s not one coach in the NBA that wouldn’t like to have Tucker on their team and that speaks volumes about the type of player he is.

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