The Rockets‘ Mike D’Antoni is the early favorite to be named Coach of the Year, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack has turned James Harden into an MVP candidate and has made Houston a contender in the West. The Rockets are off to a 19-7 start after a disappointing 41-41 season under Kevin McHale and J.B. Bickerstaff. Stein says a close runner-up to D’Antoni is new Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, whose team is 18-9 despite an injury-filled start to the season.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- The Rockets are 13-2 since Patrick Beverley‘s return from injury and he may be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Houston has improved to 17th in defensive efficiency since it got Beverley back in the lineup, and he has a shot at becoming the first guard to win the award in 20 years. “I feel like I am the best defensive player in the league right now,” Beverley said. “I hope the whole world sees it. If we win games, more and more people see it. But the last guard to get the Defensive Player of the Year award was Gary Payton. Why not me? I have the same type of killer mindset that he had, the lateral quickness and quick hands. The swagger also. That’s one of my goals, my biggest goal. If I can get a goal like that, I will put my team in a position to win a lot of games.”
- Pelicans point guard Tim Frazier will be sidelined with a contusion on a bone in his wrist, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Frazier estimates his recovery time at a week to 10 days.
- Harrison Barnes has been a pleasant surprise in a dreadful season for the Mavericks, states Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. After joining the team on a max contract this summer, Barnes has responded by averaging 20.4 points per game. In his weekly chat, Cowlishaw also addresses possible trades involving Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, as well as the potential consequences of shutting down Dirk Nowitzki for the rest of the season.