NBA Award Watch: Mike D’Antoni has Rockets on the rise

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings
NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings /

Coach of the Year: Mike D’Antoni

The NBA has 10 new head coaches in 2016-17. While many were in favor of most of the hirings, one of the few that was to some degree chastised was Mike D’Antoni to the Houston Rockets. Houston played no defense for Kevin McHale and later J.B. Bickerstaff.

D’Antoni was best known for his days of running the Seven Seconds or Less offense for the Phoenix Suns. His best player in Houston D’Antoni was going to inherit was Harden, an innovative offensive player that played no defense. Offensively, this team was going to succeed, but could it do anything defensively to be competitive?

Well, through the 2016-17 Rockets’ first 26 games, they are 19-7 and in third place in the Western Conference. Houston has been explosive on offense, as the Rockets are third in offensive efficiency at 114.6. No surprises here.

Shocking most, this team has been somewhat competent defensively. D’Antoni seems to have brought with him a strong defensive coordinator in Jeff Bzdelik. Houston is middle of the pack defensively, as the Rockets are 17th in defensive efficiency at 107.6 points allowed per 100 possessions.

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If Houston can hover near the top-half of the NBA defensively while still being top-three on offense, the Rockets could be a serious threat to win the Western Conference. Yes, both Golden State and San Antonio are better, but D’Antoni has been largely responsible for Houston being third in the West.