The Houston Rockets have enjoyed a stellar start to their season under the new regime of head coach Mike D’Antoni. Superstar James Harden is playing at an unreal rate and a legit case can be made of him being the most dangerous offensive force in the association. However, the return of hard-nosed point guard Patrick Beverley has thrust them into the elite company of the Western Conference. Beverley has never been one to hold in what he has to say and he spoke his mind on his well-known defensive abilities. Following from Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
That is one of my biggest goals,” Beverley told Sporting News this week. “I feel like I am the best defensive player in the league right now. 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.”
The Rockets are (as of last Friday), predictably, the second-highest scoring team in the NBA at 112.8 points per game, led by MVP candidate and offensive juggernaut James Harden. But the reason behind their recent surge has been solid defense. […] That starts with Beverley, who has become a big fan of his new coach. “One of the best coaches I’ve ever had—he’s open, we are able to talk,” Beverley said. “He doesn’t look at you like a number, he looks at you like an individual. He’s a good man at heart. He’s been great, he’s been phenomenal.”
Beverley’s play has improved substantially this year and so has the Rockets’ prosperity along with it. He and Harden have built quite the rapport with D’Antoni already and so far we have been witnessing the results. Beverley further explains the reasons behind his success on both ends of the court this year:
“I think the biggest difference between this and any other year, I am much lighter,” Beverley said.” I weighed myself yesterday and I am 187 pounds, and I think last year I played at 205, 206. I have taken almost 20 pounds off, so I am able to move faster, jump higher, last longer—durability. I am good on back-to-backs, I can bring a lot of energy. My trainer just wanted me to get back to being myself, hang my hat on defense and I have been doing that this year for sure.”
Patrick Beverley making a case for himself as the best defender in the league isn’t so far-fetched. He has been known for his uncanny ability to lock down superstar guards, a trait that’s vital in the point guard rich Western Conference. Though the loss of big man Clint Capela to a leg injury will hurt, Houston is most definitely still a force. D’Antoni has been known to be an offensive mastermind and he has the perfect engine in James Harden. Now with Beverley and his defensive tenacity back in the fold after his early season health struggles, Houston has all the makings of a team that could shake things up in the Western Conference playoffs come May.
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