Mike D'Antoni: It's 'BS' to Say Rockets Can't Win with Current Offensive System

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2019

Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the second half in Game 6 of the team's second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, May 10, 2019, in Houston. Golden State won 118-113, winning the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said the team will "tweak" its offensive approach after acquiring Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he said suggestions the Rockets can't contend with their uptempo James Harden-led style is "BS."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski passed along D'Antoni's full comments on the topic from the latest episode of The Woj Pod:

The Rockets' fourth-year head coach pointed to the team's strong offensive numbers last season—they ranked second to the Golden State Warriors in offensive efficiency (112.5 points per 100 possessions)—as evidence they don't need to overhaul their plan of attack.

D'Antoni conceded to Woj that Houston may rely a little too much on isolation plays, but he believes a lot of opponents pass too much, so it can be a double-edged sword.

The biggest question is whether there will be enough touches for both Harden and Westbrook, two ball-dominant players accustomed to sky-high usage rates.

"When I left OKC, I was sad. Then Houston made a home for me," Harden told reporters. "Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn't happy. Now we're back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that. Believe it."

That's a safe prediction. Houston features one of the NBA's most talented rosters, with Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Clint Capela rounding out the projected starting lineup, and they will light up the scoreboard with their free-flowing approach.

Whether that translates to championship contention is a separate debate.

The Western Conference is loaded once again. The rival Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis) and Los Angeles Clippers (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) both made summer splashes to bolster their rosters.

Now the pressure is on D'Antoni, who owns a 173-73 record across three years with Houston, to push the Rockets past those other star-studded squads and toward his first NBA championship, which would be the franchise's first title since 1995.

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