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Rockets changes - Part two

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What kind of team?

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five
Still in his prime.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Hopefully we all have aired our grievances and enough time has passed since the Rockets were defeated by The Anointed Team. As it turns out, maybe you don’t want LeBron James in the playoffs as much as you thought you did. I love seeing L.A. play Miami, as there seems to be real Heat, so to speak, between that franchise and LeBron.

The question for the Rockets going forward is possibly not wacky mastery of the ESPN NBA Trade Machine, in hopes of (yet another) radical shakeup of the roster, but rather, a consideration of what the Rockets want to be.

Should the Rockets remain a small ball team?

Should they shoot three pointers so heavily?

What should their defense look like?

How rigidly should they adhere to their doctrine?

One of the problems I believe I have perceived in the playoffs in the past two years (and the regular season as well) is that if an opponent “solves” the Rockets, or at least gains advantage once, they have it for the entire series, as the Rockets do little to shift their approach.

There is never a “Plan B”, except in the most limited, and generally unsustained fashion, like a few more basket dives or off ball cuts. Observation shows these wrinkles quickly whither into yet another barrage of clanked three pointers.

Perhaps some of this is down to Mike D’Antoni simply, and generally honorably, punching the clock after Tillman Fertitta decided to apply his famous business principles to D’Antoni, and ended up looking silly. People who can easily get a better-paying job (or comfortably retire) really aren’t susceptible to such gimmicks.

I’ll say it again. The Rockets seem to be playing something like a mathematically correct blackjack system, one that over thousands of hands, will work if strictly followed. But once the team arrives in a playoff series, is that sort of calculation valid any longer? How large are the advantages? Yes, three is more than two, but if you can’t make enough threes, isn’t two better than zero?

Is it right to assume that if the Rockets are failing, the system is nonetheless holding up, but simply going through a bad set of iterations? It feels (and yes, that’s anecdotal) that the Rockets have ample evidence that they need to be more flexible on offense and on defense.

Well, how do they get there?

It probably starts with a coach, but what does a roster that works to give the Rockets more options look like, and do they have any realistic way of achieving it?

The Rockets have a generational talent in James Harden, and he is still in his prime. What sort of player does he need alongside him? A friend? Someone to be his legs? A really talented backup band, with no headliners in it? A bodyguard, like the 1990s NBA?

This flexibility, if it is to become policy, starts with a coach. Former Rockets protege Nick Nurse has run box-in-one, and other junior high stuff, to great success in the NBA. His team plays like its hair is on fire. The Raptors change what they are doing faster than opponents can adapt, and frankly, there’s no one of Harden’s caliber on that team. What would the Rockets look like, doing that kind of thing?

Is there another such coach waiting in the wings?

What are your thoughts?

Poll

Do the Rockets need a more flexible doctrine?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    No. Mathematical correctness is correct.
    (10 votes)
  • 11%
    Yes. But only on offense.
    (47 votes)
  • 6%
    Yes. Only on defense.
    (28 votes)
  • 62%
    Yes. Offense and defense.
    (264 votes)
  • 17%
    Just hire Rick Carlisle.
    (72 votes)
421 votes total Vote Now