Stephen Silas has been resilient as the head coach for the Houston Rockets. During his two-year tenured, it has become an uphill battle. So far, in two years, Silas’ record is 26-75 as the head coach for the Rockets. Besides his record, Silas has worked extremely hard while dealing with bizarre circumstances. Coach John Lucas said:
“Stephen has been really good, and he is even keeled. He is the same guy every day. His dad and I played against each other, so I know the family really good. And he has worked really hard on his basketball. And we’re young team. He’s growing and we’re growing together.”
Last season, he dealt with COVID 19, James Harden’s departure, and constant injuries. While this season, it’s been hearing his name in a possible coaching change, mastering the young talent of the Rockets, and a previous nasty 15-game losing streak, which the Rockets ended by winning seven games in a row.
Inside that winning streak, you seen the strength of Silas’s coaching. Jumping up-and-down, yelling at the refs, being more vocal with his players when calling plays, and allowing his team to never give up. Ryan Hollins, who is a former player but now broadcaster that sits right next to Craig Akerman for AT&T SportsNet Southwest, said:
“Sometimes assistant coaches become head coaches and they change, and their personality is different, and you see different sides than you expected. He is the same guy he has always been. But what a lot of people don’t see is he has the love for player development. When he gets in, he really teaches the nuances of what the guy should be doing and what he likes to see in a play or parts of their game that could come out inside the offense.”
“And see that translation and that’s the biggest thing… don’t get caught up in the wins and losses, but you’re seeing guys have the a-ha moments in the offense. And defensively — especially a guy like Josh Christopher — because of Coach Silas, you’re getting that one-on-one attention and explanation. And as a player, I didn’t have that and it’s different from that standpoint. He has the patience to be able to do these things. You appreciate someone who shows you that respect and when he shows that respect, the players have really responded to what he is trying to do.”
Silas is breaking down each step on offense and defense so the younger Rockets can understand. The Rockets struggled with their spacing on offense and on the defensive concepts of switching. The beginning of the season was a terror, but Silas seemed composed and patient. In 17 games, the Rockets ranked 28th in three-point shooting and points per game and ranked last in offensive rating (97.3) and 18th in defensive rating (108.2). The Rockets were 1-16, which is frustrating to any fanbase.
With Silas’ coaching job on the line, the Rockets pulled off a jaw-dropping upset versus the Chicago Bulls. But as the Rockets have looked better on the court, Silas has been forced to juggle a rotation that has players come in-and-out of the lineup due to injuries or fit, but he consistently preaches the ‘Next man up’ mentality. .
He also figured out that playing Christian Wood and Daniel Theis at the same time was not working. Wood and Theis have an 89.0 offensive and 109.2 defensive rating together, which isn’t good. Honestly, they play better individually when they are not together.
It’s hard for the Rockets to generate the five-out offense with Theis-Wood sharing the floor, as the pace becomes slower. There’s just not enough space for Wood to create unless Alperen Sengun is on the floor. Segun provides space, playmaking, and screening too. Silas understood that Theis is suited for bigger centers or nights when Wood is hurt. Although Theis signed a three-year $36 million dollar deal this past off-season, there are nights where he doesn’t play, but understands Silas’ reasoning. Theis said:
“I learned when I was with the Celtics. My first year was hard for me. I fought for every minute. And then honestly, not playing out of nowhere in games is not easy, but I’m still going to help everyone on the team. And I learned from veterans like Tristan Thompson. You want everyone to get better and get paid one day. So that’s why I’m trying to help and show those young guys if you don’t play some games, you can’t just put your head down and be mad. You got to keep working.”
Another thing Silas adjusted was putting Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks on the same court, as the Rockets’ shooting became explosive. In the last 12 games, the Rockets are shooting 38 percent from three because of those two. Eric Gordon and Wood did help with the Rockets’ shooting effort too. Silas took note and never took those two out of the rotation. He said:
“I either try to keep Armoni and Garrison on the floor so we can have a shooter.”
Silas is also finding ways to for Josh Christopher to be effective on the court. He is using Christopher as a on ball defender so it could disrupt the opposing team’s best player.
Christopher has done an exceptional job of moving his feet and having good hands. His wingspan and eye coordination are allowing him to track the ball better on defense.
JAYGUP! pic.twitter.com/rV3wzxPyN0— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 17, 2021
Silas is trusting Christopher on defense and offense because he is making the right play and taking great shots. He doesn’t want him taking too many step-back threes. If Christopher is taking quality open shots, his minutes will grow. Silas said:
“Again, for him, it’s his shot selection, and he has done a good job with his shot selection in the last handful of games, and I feel much more comfortable having him out there then I did before and that’s just all him. Him watching film. Him learning. Him working on his game and taking the minutes he gets and making the most of them, and I’m definitely satisfied on the way he is playing.”
Josh Christopher gaining confidence and adding to his bag pic.twitter.com/SbXhKPX4sg— Zach Allen (@RenzoTheDon) December 14, 2021
With Christopher’s development, it’s all about making the most of his minutes. He shows passion and inspiration for his teammates when a good play is made. Per 36 minutes, Christopher is averaging 16.6 points per contest and has shooting splits of 48.4/43.8/71.4 percent.
As a former player development coach, Silas has always been a great mentor. He allows his players to discuss personal things with him. Silas understands his team his young and it will take time for consistent winning. He has a great coaching staff that loves his intelligence. Silas shows the enthusiasm every time a timeout happens, as he daps his players up or claps very loudly. He believes every player has an opportunity while playing for him. Coach Troy Weaver said:
“I don’t know if you’ll find a more genuine boss you could ever have. The spirit that he has day-to-day is the center of our group. And it’s a huge plus in my career of getting the benefit from the things he’s learned and the things his father has learned. And in all those ways, I just appreciate him and enjoy him.”
Silas’ job is to encourage his players and bring them through the process slowly. He enjoys coaching this team and teaching them values of basketball. Silas knew his coaching tenure with the Rockets could become challenging. But no matter how bad the Rockets struggle during certain games, Silas is in it for the long haul. He said:
“It’s great… I enjoy coaching these guys. They are really good guys first and foremost, and they listen, and they try. Obviously, we had struggles and adversities, but we always fought back. And they stayed together. It’s a result on who they are. I love coaching this group. Especially enjoy seeing the improvement. We started pretty bad and now we’re better and we’re going to continue to get better. It’s a testament to bunch of things. Its testament what type of guys they are and how hard they work and how well they listen. Also credit to the coaching staff and what they do to the group.”