6. Who is going to have the keys to the car?
The Rockets have a Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With Russell Westbrook on the court, the Rockets play at a pace of 104.6, which is second-best in the league, but without him, they play at a pace of 98.9, which would be 19th.
With James Harden, the Rockets’ pace is 101.3 and without him, it is 105.4, which is going from the 10th fastest team to the fastest in the league. The Rockets are two very different teams when one of their superstars has the keys to the car.
Mike D’Antoni needs to figure out who has the keys to the car and when to change drivers. There will be games when the Rockets need to play more methodical and others where they need to blitz their opponents with a lightning strike. The NBA scrimmages are a time when the Rockets can experiment using these drastic changes in pace to see how best to deploy them.
7. Committing to the dirty work.
This is less of a question and more of a statement. The Rockets need to commit to doing the dirty work of rebounding. Micro ball has many benefits, but its greatest weakness is how vulnerable it leaves a team on the boards.
The Rockets know they’re going to get outrebounded but that does not mean it doesn’t matter. The Rockets need to establish, master and perfect the art of rebounding to make sure playing small is not such a liability on the boards as to render it ineffective.
D’Antoni needs to demand an all-hands-on-deck approach to boxing out and fighting for boards. The Rockets are planning to take losses in the rebounding battle to win the war, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight like hell for every last board.