Can the return of Jeff Bzdelik cure the Rockets’ defensive woes?

Home / NBA JERSEYS / Can the return of Jeff Bzdelik cure the Rockets’ defensive woes?
Spread the love

Bzdelik is accepting a big challenge: the task of repairing a Rockets defense that has been dreadful early this season. The Rockets rank 21st in defensive rating, allowing 111.3 points per 100 possessions, stumbling from finishing seventh last season (105.6).

Houston has no hope of challenging the Golden State Warriors again without making drastic defensive improvement, but Bzdelik’s return won’t instantly cure all of the Rockets’ ills. He isn’t bringing Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute — the two rangy, versatile defenders so critical to the Rockets’ switch-everything scheme a year ago before departing in free agency — with him.

And Houston still has to figure out how to mask Melo’s defensive deficiencies.7

It’s not fair to put all of the Rockets’ defensive issues in Anthony’s lap, but the on- and off-court numbers are rather startling. Houston allows 113.9 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the floor, the most of any Houston player with at least 100 minutes. That number plummets to 98.6 when Anthony sits, more than seven points fewer than any other player on the roster.

Put another way: Houston has been one of the NBA’s worst defenses (Cleveland’s 118.5 points per 100 possessions is dead last in the league) with Melo, and the stingiest defense (Boston leads the NBA at 98.9 points per 100 possessions) when he sits this season. Small-sample-size theater, but still.

Who do you think Mike D’Antoni, another coach who has buried the hatchet from his previous tenure with Anthony, had in mind when he declared that the Rockets needed to make major defensive scheme changes due to personnel?

D’Antoni made those comments in the heat of the moment after Houston gave up 133 points in a lopsided home loss to the LA Clippers. He reconsidered after reviewing film, but the idea got about as much resistance in the Rockets’ locker room as most Clippers drives to the basket that night.

“We’ve just got to figure out how exactly we want to play defensively,” Anthony said after the game. “This team this year is completely, totally different from the team they had last year.