Western Notes: D’Antoni, Jazz, Doncic, Thunder

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who has traditionally played a short rotation in meaningful games, sounds like he’s going to experiment with playing more guys once the NBA returns from hiatus.

“With (GM) Daryl (Morey) and data, with how we think gives us the best chance to win, it probably comes down to nine guys. Now, who those nine are they could change, and maybe early we experiment, practice and watch,” D’Antoni tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

D’Antoni acknowledged that many of the players won’t be in peak regular-season form, adding that “it’s something that you have to play through.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have had numerous conversations since the pair tested positive for COVID-19 and team sources are “adamant” that the two will be able to coexist without issue, Tim MacMahon writes in a collaborate piece with other writers on ESPN.com. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsay previously said that the two players were ready to put it behind them.
  • The time off has allowed Luka Doncic‘s thumb, wrist and ankles to heal and while there were rumors that he gained some weight during the hiatus, sources tell MacMahon (same piece) that the Mavericks star has been working out diligently in Slovenia.
  • The Thunder‘s biggest concern coming back from the hiatus could be their chemistry, ESPN’s Royce Young contends in the same piece. OKC compiled a 34-13 record since Thanksgiving, which was second in the league over that span. However, the club needed the first month of the season to get its three-guard lineup in sync.
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19 thoughts on “Western Notes: D’Antoni, Jazz, Doncic, Thunder

  1. nentwigs

    Bigger issue in Utah than the chemistry between Mitchell and Gobert is replacing the lame team name of “Jazz” which is as unrelatible to Utah as “Lakers” is to LA.

  2. Howie415

    Why would you run a short bench in meaningful games? Why wear out your stars?

    • Simmons>Russ

      Cause you don’t want average players/bench players having to guard up against the games better players.
      So you play your 8/9 best players.

      I feel like because of the big break with covid some player that have kept fit and ready will be able to play big minutes knowing the rest of the season is about 30 games then they get another break.
      Some players that didn’t keep fit will have to work up their fitness then probably play big minutes in the playoffs.

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Old school thinking has always been a shorter bench in playoff games. Your best talent. For the most time you can. Yeah I always believed in going 10 deep. Especially today with going small or big. Or going with shooters or D guys. NBA is much deeper now. All teams should be able to go ten deep.
    Always believed that team names. Belonged to city more than team. City should have it in contract. The name when team leaves. Is left to city they are leaving. Lakers happened a long time ago. Jazz makes no sense in Utah. Remember the Hornets name was given back. And OKC was smart enough to change name right away to Thunder. Makes so much more sense when it’s tied to the city.
    I’m really curious to see what happens with DAntoni. Has no contract beyond this yr. I don’t see them in west finals. They may have tough time getting out of first rd. Being such a big offense coach. Always pushed offensive scheme as biggest weapon. The Nets would make sense for him. Other that that. Don’t really see where he could fit. He may not have a job for awhile. I guess espn, NBAtv

  4. Simmons>Russ

    I feel like with covid giving players a 2/3/4 month type rest some players will be fit and extremely ready to go and be able to play huge minutes.
    I’m thinking Bron and AD will be near 40 minutes per night if needed to play that much.
    Just cause after the 8 game “regular season” it will then hit the playoffs and if you can win in 4 games and make the next round you’ll get a couple extra days to rest up then make another strong push and strong push.
    The best way to win these playoffs isn’t long bench’s and resting stats it’ll be winning series quick to get some rest and smash it out

  5. Skip, Tampa

    D’Antoni going 10 deep would be good for change. Problem is that this team is really only about 8 players deep.
    Also see him moving on from the Rockets and into something new.

    • wagner13

      I think a nine-man rotation works. It would feature:
      PG: Westbrook
      SG: Harden
      SF: Gordon
      PF: Covington
      C: Tucker
      6. Rivers
      7. Green
      8. McLemore
      9. Carroll

      However, extending to ten would require trusting one of Clemons, Hartenstein, Sefalosha, or Caboclo with postseason minutes they likely can’t handle

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        You should replace Carroll with House in that lineup. They would likely only use Carroll if they go 10-deep (or more).

        I think D’Antoni should consider putting Green in the starting lineup and have Gordon coming off the bench like this:

        Starters: Westbrook, Harden, Covington, Tucker, Green

        Bench: Rivers, McLemore, Gordon, and House

        Covington and House can both play either SF or PF. While they can split most of the minutes at center between Green and Tucker. If they need a 3rd center then Chandler or Hartenstein are both available if they need to go big. But having Covington, Tucker, and Green starting will really help give them size up front so they don’t get killed on the boards as much.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        They should be able to use a true center in the lineup when Westbrook is on the bench because the other 4 players on the court will all be decent 3-point shooters. They would have Harden at PG with a combination of Rivers, McLemore, or Gordon at the wings. Then either Covington or Tucker at PF and probably Chandler (or Hartenstein) at center if they want to go big.

        • wagner13

          I completely forgot about House. However, I don’t think D’Antoni would start Green at center. It didn’t work in OKC and Houston would get killed on the boards. I’m guessing either Gordon or House starts at SF with Covington and Tucker at the 4 and 5 respectively

  6. KnickerbockerAl

    Have to say if DAntoni leaves. What will Rockets do. Do they redo team ? Who do they go after as coach ? Would they move Russ ? Russ would bring back plenty. To think just 2 yrs ago. They had Warriors on ropes. A healthy deep Warrior team. Depending on what happens in playoffs. There could be big changes in Houston.

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