1. Defense must be the Houston Rockets’ top priority
The Rockets have never been known for their defense, as they’ve only ranked within the top 20 in defensive rating once, dating back to the 2015-16 season. That ranking came during the 2017-18 season, as the Rockets ranked seventh in defensive efficiency that season.
It’s no coincidence that the Rockets had their best season in franchise history that year, as they finished with the best record in the NBA, the top seed in the Western Conference, and posted a record of 65-17, which set a franchise record. When the Rockets were at their best this past season, it wasn’t because of the offense, but rather their defense, as their defensive intensity was high.
While players like James Harden have improved upon their individual defense, the Rockets’ team defense was still a weak point. The next Rockets head coach will have to preach defense from day one, because the playoffs taught the Rockets a valuable lesson, which is that you can’t always depend on 3-point shooting.
The Lakers and Rockets series changed once the Lakers turned up their defense. If the Rockets want to take that next step, they’ll have to be a top-five defense and resort back to their play in 2017-18.
As stated earlier, no matter who the Rockets bring in as the next head coach, they will have areas that need immediate improvement. The Rockets are at a crossroads in that they still have two future Hall of Famers on the team and a small window to win a championship. Whoever the next coach is that’s hired, there will be several things that will need to be immediately addressed, in order to fulfill that window.