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Mike D’Antoni speaks out on the Rockets’ biggest advantage in NBA’s return

Rockets, Mike D'Antoni

Mike D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets’ small-ball experiment was the talk of the NBA back in February.

Houston traded center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team deal that netted them former Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Robert Covington.

The move was not only intended to create even more spacing for D’Antoni’s perimeter-centric offense, but it is also designed to allow for more lineup flexibility for the Rockets.

With the NBA set to return in July, D’Antoni feels the small-ball experiment could be even lethal given a full training camp.

All 22 teams heading to Orlando, Florida for the resumption of play will partake in individual training camps at the end of June.

Compared to before when the Rockets were still adapting to their small-ball style on the fly, they will now have the opportunity to work out the kinks and likely come up with various offensive sets to exploit potential mismatches.

Playing small ball brought mixed results for Houston after the trade deadline. Early on, it seemed smaller lineups unlocked the team’s full potential.

Russell Westbrook went nuclear in February, averaging 33.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists while shooting 54.9 percent from the field. Westbrook routinely carved out driving lanes to the rim, utilizing the spaces to make plays as a slasher.

However, the Rockets hit something of a snag prior to the suspension of play. They won their first five games out of the All-Star break, only to lose four of the next five contests.

Some analysts and insiders have wondered whether Houston’s size disadvantage will hurt them in the playoffs, particularly against teams with elite big men. Nonetheless, Mike D’Antoni is confident the Rockets can use the training camp period to grow more comfortable in this system.