D'Antoni's System, Not Harden Or Paul, Is The Problem

Jim Jackson played for Mike D'Antoni and "loves him to death," but he needs to alter his system for Houston to take the next step

Reiter Than You
May 31, 2019 - 8:00 am
Mike D'Antoni Rockets

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James Harden and Chris Paul have been an effective one-two punch in Houston, though it has been, at times, combative. A big brother-little brother kind of thing.

“They’ve had their times where it’s gotten a little contentious, but they hugged it out and got back to it because the guys are competitive,” Jim Jackson said on Reiter Than You. “James plays a certain way, and so does Chris. Chris needs the ball in his hands sometimes to be effective. So does James.”

Still, Jackson believes the Rockets’ issues go beyond their two best players.

“I played for Mike D’Antoni,” Jackson said. “I love Mike to death as a person, especially on the offensive end. But the system itself has failed the Rockets because they tried to build everything up to beat Golden State and they wanted to be this three-point shooting team and take Golden State out. But at times, that philosophy has backfired like we saw last year – and even this year when they fail to execute when they need to because the ball gets stuck. There’s a difference being a three-point-shooting team like Golden State when the ball is moving; you’ve got free opportunities. But when the ball is stuck on one side of the court, it’s easier to defend. 

“That’s my defense for James Harden,” Jackson continued. “I think James Harden gave up a lot this year early on, especially to Chris Paul. Got the ball out of his hands. That shows that he’s mature enough to understand he can’t have the ball all the time. But to me, the system has to change somewhat in order for Houston to really take that next step.”

Jackson doesn’t think the Rockets can trade Harden (due to talent) or Paul (due to contract) but could look to move Clint Capela or Eric Gordon. Still, the Rockets won’t truly improve until they tweak their system.

"If you come back with the same system and philosophy,” Jackson said, “you’re going to end up in the same situation in my opinion.”