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Should the Houston Rockets replace Elston Turner with Tom Thibodeau?

By Anthony Duckett
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets’ defensive woes could very well cost Elston Turner his job, as the defense is currently second to last in defensive efficiency. Here’s one name that the Rockets should consider if they do decide to part with Turner.

If you’ve paid any attention to the Houston Rockets thus far on the season, you’ve noticed two significant issues plaguing the team: poor outside shooting and atrocious defense.

The outside shooting woes have mainly all been between James Harden and Eric Gordon, as they’re shooting 20 percent and 24 percent from downtown. Those two combine for 23 3-point attempts, which accounts for 48 percent of the Rockets’ 3-point attempts. Considering the 3-point shooting history of both, this seems like something that will take care of itself over the course of the year.

The defensive side of the floor, however, is a far greater concern. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Rockets decide to make a coaching change with their defensive coordinator position, as the Rockets did something similar at the start of the 2018-2019 season when they opted to bring Jeff Bzdelik back to the team. In the offseason, the Rockets decided to part ways with Bzdelik and eventually replaced him with Elston Turner, which has been a bad decision thus far.

With Bzdelik no longer an option, as he’s coaching on Alvin Gentry’s staff with the New Orleans Pelicans, there’s another familiar name the Rockets should turn to: Tom Thibodeau.

Thibodeau coached in Houston from 2003-2007, when Jeff Van Gundy was at the helm. Thibodeau anchored the defense during those four years, and the results were successful as the Rockets ranked fifth, fourth, sixth and third in defensive efficiency over that timespan.

In addition, the Rockets never allowed more than 92.1 points per game during any of the four years Thibodeau was here, as the Rockets finished fifth, third, fourth and third in point allowed per game. The Rockets currently rank 29th in the league in defensive rating, which is second to last, and are allowing 126.6 points per game, which is last in the NBA.

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On top of that, Thibodeau’s Bulls teams were known for their stellar defense, especially between 2010-2014 as they were consistently one of the league’s best in defensive efficiency each year. During those years, the Bulls ranked first, second, sixth and second in defensive efficiency.

In addition, those Bulls teams only allowed 91 points to opposing teams on average between the 2010-2014 seasons, as they finished second, first, third and first in points allowed in Thibodeau’s first four years with the team.

Granted, this could very well be a pipe dream, as Thibodeau has risen through the ranks since then, and has been a head coach for each of the last eight years, and was even the President of Basketball Operations during his last stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It may be a moot point, but it’s certainly worth visiting for the Rockets, as Thibodeau is currently not coaching and could be brought in immediately. You’d have to think Thibodeau would be tempted if the Rockets meet his asking price, and regardless of how high it may be, it would be well worth it for the Rockets to meet his number.

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The Rockets’ defensive struggles have shown how great of a loss Jeff Bzdelik has been, and this could easily be salvaged with Tom Thibodeau.

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