The good and bad about the Rockets
How can the Rockets maneuver through the wild wild West?
Well the beginning of the season has been a struggle, but there cannot be any excuses if the Rockets want to survive this season. The Western Conference has officially taken steroids for this season.
The first problem is the Rocket's defense.
If the Rockets want to survive this season, the defense must improve. It has way too many breakdowns for them to be successful. The Rockets rank 30th in points allowed in a game. This stat is very shocking because the addition of Russell Westbrook. Their pick 'n' roll and transition defense has been terrible too. Another bad situation that keeps occurring is the misuse of PJ Tucker. He is repeatedly guarding players that are bigger than him. Monday night, Tucker played the center position for defensive purposes against the Memphis Grizzlies. D'Antoni's defensive schemes must be better before they play bigger opponents like the Los Angeles Lakers. He does lack a defensive background in his coaching career. Amar'e Stoudemire, former NBA vet, who plays in Israel now, said on a the Knuckle Head podcast that D' Antoni never went over defense in practice when he played for him in Phoenix. The Rockets gave up 46 points in the first quarter against the Miami Heat Sunday night.
Last season, the Rockets brought back Coach Jeff Bzdelik to fix the defensive problems they had. Sadly, his contract ended in May of this year. Hopefully this coaching staff can figure things out before they play LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, or Luka Doncic. Even Devin Booker and the Suns are looking pretty impressive in the West. The Rockets have struggled with mediocre teams this season so far. Tracy McGrady, ESPN NBA analyst, mentioned on the NBA Jump that the Rockets defense needs to be fixed soon.
Here is the bright side of the situation, James Harden.
Ever since James Harden's slow start, he has been on fire for the last four games. Harden is not surprising anyone by the leading the league in scoring. Right now he is averaging 36.6 per game and heading to free throw line frequently. He is able to get to the free throw line 16 times per game as well. Harden is the reason why the Rockets were able to skate by the Wizards and Grizzlies. Even though Harden is only shooting 38% from the field, he is still able to manage games correctly. Harden has also done better by creating opportunities for his teammates when he attempts to go to the paint. Another thing Harden has gotten better at is not holding the ball to the final digit of the shot clock. The ball is leaving his hands much faster this season. Harden has been extremely aggressive ever since he mentioned playing soft in the first game of the season. As basketball fans see, Harden is improving from last season. Hopefully Harden sustains this play.
Even though things seem ugly right now, the Rockets will figure things out.