Yesterday, the Houston Rockets officially announced the hiring of Mike D’Antoni.
While many are excited about D’Antoni’s potential success with Houston’s offense, mainly James Harden, many are also concerned about D’Antoni’s lack of defensive coaching abilities.
The former Phoenix Suns (and Knicks/Lakers) head coach, D’Antoni is known for his “7 seconds or less” offensive style, where his teams grab the rebound, push the pace and put up a three or drive to the basket within seven seconds.
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That style is sure to score a lot of points, but D’Antoni has never been known for teaching much defensively.
That’s why the Rockets and D’Antoni made it a priority to bring in a “defensive coordinator” of sorts. Enter Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik, along with Roy Rogers, will help coach the defense, the team’s biggest concern after last season’s disappointment.
Of course a lot will depend on whether or not Dwight Howard opts in to his contract. While Howard has never been a dominant post player, his athleticism has made him one of the best, if not the best, defensive center in the league. The Rockets reportedly are ok with him coming back if he accepts a smaller offensive role.
Regardless of whether or not he returns, Bzdelik needs ALL his players to commit to a new defensive identity. While in Memphis, Bzdelik and his defense were always near to the top of the league. Houston has the talent to commit defensively, but it’s their collective effort that’s been questioned constantly.
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Bringing in just D’Antoni would not have been enough for me, but adding a defensive-minded coach like Bzdelik (and Rogers) has me more giddy than the combination of McHale and Bickerstaff.
Smile Rockets fans. Bzdelik is one of the most highly-touted basketball minds in the game and many experts and executives around the league are fond of the hire.
It may not be Jeff Van Gundy, but adding D’Antoni and Bzdelik could turn around a team that was stagnant on offense and couldn’t care less on defense last season.
Click here for all the latest on the Rockets offseason.