The Houston Rockets have improved on paper but the real kicker is seeing James Harden and Russell Westbrook co-exist. Both are ball-dominant players and some feel that this could work against the Rockets. The task of addressing that fall on the shoulders of head coach Mike D’Antoni.
The Rockets coach is fully aware of how Harden and Westbrook play. Both want the spheroid in their hands most of the time so ball distribution is a big question mark. It comes to no surprise that D’Antoni plans to use both players at the start and the end game. In between, it appears the former coach of the two-time NBA Coach of the Year has plans of staggering their playing time.
According to Ryan Wostat of the Toronto Run, D’Antoni revealed his plans of having two of Harden Westbrook and Eric Gordon on the floor. The intent here is obvious – he wants shot creators and scorers on the floor as much as possible. This would be a nightmare for opposing teams, especially if the shots start falling in.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game that he’ll be staggering Harden and Westbrook but will always try to have two of Harden, Westbrook and Eric Gordon on the floor this season.
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) October 10, 2019
One thing that D’Antoni needs to avoid is overusing any of the three players. if the Rockets are to make the playoffs, they need to properly manage their key stars. From all indications, D’Antoni (or anyone else for that matter) may have no clue as to how to properly distribute the ball. Harden and Westbrook will hog the ball at times. With a shallow bench, it is something that may or may not work for the Rockets.
Finally, there is the question of defense, NBC sports reported. The Rockets are armed with vaunted firepower but obviously sacrifice defense with Harden and Westbrook on the floor. For D’Antoni, the challenge is making both players defend properly.
The Rockets have all of the NBA regular season to figure it out. D’Antoni will be in the hot seat as they try to make the playoffs and go deeper. With the addition of Westbrook, the Rockets have better chances of reaching the NBA Finals. But before that, they need to find a way to survive the wild Western Conference.