Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t buying the trend of player rests down the stretch. He is, instead, a huge believer in continuity and establishing a rhythm on the court.
“You gotta be careful about taking guys out and rest,” said D’Antoni after a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. “Everyone wants rest, rest, rest, we’ll they’re gonna play.”
“Otherwise, we’ll lose the advantage of why you’ve worked through 82 games and it’s scary times for us.”
Coach D’Antoni is not a fan of rest, sees it as less than ideal for establishing rhythm, and believes they get a good amount of rest already. Believes James Harden’s dip in 3P% is because of rest. Says #Rockets just didn’t bring it tonight, and more games like this can happen. pic.twitter.com/BHylAhe0Kn
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) April 1, 2018
But the offensive mastermind didn’t stop there, going as far as saying that rest has been a reason for James Harden’s dip in 3-point percentage.
“He just started struggling when we’re resting him,” said D’Antoni. “He’s just gone off of rhythm and now we gotta get him back on.”
While the rhythm has a lot to do with a player’s ability to build momentum — let’s stop it at that. Harden’s dip in 3-point shooting isn’t exactly due to his rest, but due to percentages catching up to him.
Let’s call a spade a spade here — Harden has never shot over 38 percent from deep in his career, except for his third year, where he saw a 39 percent season that ultimately catapulted him as the Rockets’ next franchise star.
Looking back at the last few seasons — 37.5 percent on 2014-15 (8.0 attempts per game), 35.9 percent on 2015-16 (9.3 attempts per game), and 34.7 percent on 2016-17 (10.2 attempts per game) — decreasing every season as his attempts have increased every year.
D’Antoni can try and create whatever excuse proves his point, but Harden is a volume shooter, not a marksman — and his 27 percent shooting in the month of April is a result of the law of averages catching up to him after starting the season shooting a beefier 39 percent from deep.