Houston Rockets: New hire Elston Turner will help turn around the defense

Assistant coach Elston Turner, who is being targeted by the Houston Rockets (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Assistant coach Elston Turner, who is being targeted by the Houston Rockets (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets were able to make an exciting hire with Elston Turner being named as the top assistant. Here’s why he’ll turn the defense around.

Houston Rockets fans — slowly but surely, we’re getting snippets of what this team is going to look like next season.  There’s still a whole lot of uncertainty of how the roster itself will look but at least there are some clues as to what’s going on.

The Houston Rockets are very much so in the sweepstakes for Jimmy Butler and his three-and-D presence, his innate ability to put the ball in the hoop and his strong leadership capabilities will be an asset to this team.

There are concerns on if he’s going to clash with James Harden and Chris Paul because of them all being ball-dominant but it’s definitely worth trying this thing out.  If the Houston Rockets trade away Clint Capela and Eric Gordon, they’ll be able to bring Butler in but it’s going to give the team little cap flexibility in case of contingencies so we would have to keep our fingers crossed that this roster stays healthy.

But if Butler decides to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers or goes elsewhere, it would be prudent to try to bring the starting five back with a few tweaks to the bench and try it again.  The Golden State Warriors are wounded and the door is wide-open for the Houston Rockets.

However, if the Los Angeles Lakers somehow find a way to land Kawhi Leonard, then that complicates things and then a deal for Butler would be more a necessity — rather than a luxury — if they’re going to be competing with a big three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Leonard.


But for right now, we don’t have to worry about that but we can celebrate the news of Elston Turner being hired as Mike D’Antoni‘s top assistant on the bench.

This is a terrific hire as Turner is excellent in terms of dealing with personnel and he fits D’Antoni’s

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mold of being a players-type coach.

With the retirement of long-time confidant Jeff Bzdelik, D’Antoni needed to hit a home run on a coach who could preach the gospel of defense just as well as his predecessor and Turner certainly will fit the bill.

This is Turner’s second stint with the Houston Rockets — he was on Rick Adelman‘s staff from 2007-11 and some of the best defensive Houston Rockets teams this century were under the tutelage of Turner.

I wrote about this when the rumors were hot and heavy about Turner last week and here’s some stats that you should know about.

Houston Rockets’ defensive efficiency (number of points allowed per 100 possessions) during Turner’s tenure:

2007-08: 86.5 (2nd)

2008-09:  101.4 (4th)

2009-10:  105.5 (17th)

2010-11:  106.2 (18th)

Although there was a drop-off toward the end of his tenure, the potential exists for a huge jolt in production, especially with a fresh face coaching the defense.

The Houston Rockets were in the middle of the pack in terms of defensive efficiency last season being ranked 16th and allowing 107.9 points per 100.

There’s always room for improvement and I think Turner is going to help this get there.

Next. Two teams most likely to trade for Clint Capela. dark

Turner most recently was the assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings and had been there since the 2016-17 season.  He has had stops with the Memphis Grizzlies (2013-14), Phoenix Suns (2011-13), a previous stint with the Kings (2000-06) and the Portland Trail Blazers (1996-00).

He’s also an eight-season NBA veteran who played guard/small forward for three teams from 1981-89.

Good luck Elston and welcome back!  Let’s get to work!