James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Mike D'Antoni are masters of the offensive game. That's a fact.
But for as good as they are at scoring, they might be twice as bad at defending. The Rockets are 29th in defensive efficiency, second-to-last in opponent points per game, and have allowed a league-worst 48% scoring percentage. The team currently holds a 4-3 record in the West.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the team has expressed frustration over the lack of defensive intensity to start the season.
This dynamic group has spent much of these past few seasons trying to master the art of balance, with a James Harden/Mike D’Antoni-led offense that has been historically good and a Jekyll and Hyde defense that is succumbing to its inner demons at the moment. After a rocky summer in which their prickly inner dynamics were revealed to the outside world and certainly played a part in the Westbrook move, sources say that a familiar debate – how much they focus on offense vs. the need to take more of a prideful approach to defense – has been a point of early frustration among the players yet again and a topic of great focus.
The season is young and the Rockets have time to turn things around. Whether it's D'Antoni's system or the culmination of the players, they have not been good enough on defense to be considered an elite team in the West.
They obviously want that to change.
It will be interesting to see how they respond as the season progresses.