After a bad start to the season at 1-4, the Houston Rockets will be looking to change their defensive system a bit from what was successful last year.
The Houston Rockets have been disappointing so far. They are just 1-4, though they are 1-1 with both Chris Paul and James Harden playing in the same game. Still, there are obvious issues early on that are requiring some change.
The one we’ll talk about today is the defense. The Rockets were a top-tier defensive team last season and were hoping to be even better this year. That hasn’t been the case so far, with the team ranking just No. 26 in defensive rating at the moment. That’s in the same area as the Cavs, Mavs & Suns, so something has to change.
They showed some promise against the Jazz, allowing just 100 points, but had an off night on offense at the same time that resulted in the loss. Last night against the Clippers was pretty bad, as the Rockets allowed 133 points, including 30 to Montrezl Harrell.
Coach D’Antoni certainly isn’t happy and voiced his concerns with the defense after the game last night:
Coach D’Antoni saying “our defense is just awful”. Says they’re good in spots but have to make adjustments during next two days of practice. #Rockets
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 27, 2018
It’s looking like the Rockets will move away from the switching defensive system that was so successful last season under Jeff Bzdelik. D’Antoni mentioned that over the next couple of days off, they may move to a more traditional defense.
Rockets will change the defense, use the two practice days to move off much of the switching, D'Antoni said.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 27, 2018
The main culprit of the switching style of defense is Carmelo Anthony, so far. He has been very good on offense for the squad, especially last night, but hasn’t held his own on the other end of the court.
Melo is best suited for a more traditional man-to-man defense for this current Rockets squad. He was continuously switched onto the likes of Donovan Mitchell and repeatedly burned. You can’t expect him to guard someone like that, but that’s exactly what the offenses of opposing teams are trying to do.
If the Rockets can keep Melo in a role where he can guard power forwards primarily, the team can be much more successful on the defensive end. Guarding the perimeter has, for the most part, been a bad time for the aging star.
The mismatching in the paint due to the switching has also caused a ton of issues for the rebounding of the team. The Rockets are currently dead last in defensive rebounds per game at 30 per game. That has shown so far, as the team has been outrebounded in every game but the win against the Lakers. Definitely a correlation, there.
We’ll see on Tuesday how the new-look defense seems, but it won’t be 100% without James Ennis and James Harden to give some effort after their injuries. Let’s hope they both buy in after they’re back and the Rockets can go back to locking down some teams. We might need to consider trading for Jimmy Butler sooner rather than later.