Houston Rockets: Top 5 coaches in franchise history

Anthony Duckett
Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets (Robert Laberge/Getty Images) /
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Rick Adelman of the Houston Rockets
Rick Adelman of the Houston Rockets(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

5. Rick Adelman

Rick Adelman has the second highest win percentage in Rockets history, behind only Mike D’Antoni, as he won 58.8 percent of the games he coached in. He led the Rockets to the post-season in two of the four years he was the head coach, and even led the Rockets to the second round of the post-season, which hadn’t been done in eleven years.

In addition, Adelman pioneered the Rockets’ infamous 22 game win streak, which was the second longest in NBA history at the time. The record would later be broken by the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in the 2013 season. The fact that it took the superstar led Miami Heat to surpass this record makes it even more impressive, as the Rockets were without Yao Ming due to injury for 10 of their 22 wins during that streak. Adelman was able to get great productivity out of 41 year old Dikembe Mutombo and former Rockets fan favorite Chuck Hayes to fill in for Yao. Yao also missed the playoffs with a broken foot that season.

Although the Rockets were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs again that season, it wasn’t surprising considering they were playing without Yao. Following an impressive first season, Adelman gave Rockets Nation a reason for optimism as the team won 55 games despite Yao and T-Mac missing a combined 47 games.

In Adelman’s second season at the helm, the Rockets went 53-29, finishing with the fifth seed in the West. This was also impressive because McGrady, who had been the team’s leader in points scored in the previous two seasons, missed 47 games that season. McGrady also missed the entire post-season that year, yet Adelman was able to lead the Rockets to the second round of the playoffs, which hadn’t been done in eleven years prior to that season. The Rockets were eventually defeated by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in seven games of the Conference Semifinals, but this was also quite impressive as they lost Yao Ming in Game 3 of that series. Yao would ultimately miss the rest of the series..

The interesting thing about Adelman’s tenure as the Rockets coach is that he missed the playoffs in his final two seasons, but still had a winning record in both years. This was arguably equally impressive, as McGrady was a shell of his former self, and was ultimately traded in 2010 after playing in only six games for the Rockets. In addition, Yao also missed the entire 2010 season due to injury. Yao returned to play just five games in 2011, as his body had broken down by that point. In fact, he averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, which was a steep drop off from the 19.75 points and 9.9 rebounds he had averaged in his previous season.

You have to wonder how much better Adelman’s teams would have been if they were able to get a fully healthy McGrady and Yao. The fact that Adelman was able to lead the Rockets to consecutive 42+ win seasons in 2010 and 2011 without a single All-Star is an indictment of how great of a coach Adelman was.

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