Photo by Matt Hickey via CC
Following a disappointing (and, at times, disastrous) 41-41 season in 2015-16, the Houston Rockets had hit their lowest point since the Yao Ming era. The fan base wanted a "home run" hire as the next head coach, but when the team announced they would be bringing in Mike D'Antoni, the reaction ranged from yawning to angry yelling. After a mid-2000s run in Phoenix, where he averaged nearly 60 wins over a four-year period, D'Antoni had been summarily run out of his last two jobs, with the Knicks and Lakers. Rockets fans were unimpressed. It turns out we could not have been more wrong. With a slight retooling of the roster and a full-time move of James Harden to point guard, D'Antoni turned last season's .500 outfit into the third-best team in the league (by record, 55-27). Perhaps just as important, particularly for those spending big bucks on lower-bowl Toyota Center season tickets, D'Antoni brought in a far more watchable brand of basketball, overseeing a team that set a league record for three-point shots attempted and ended up the second-best offensive team in all of basketball, behind only the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. As coaching hires go, it appears the Rockets got this one right.