James Harden will probably set a personal best in assists this year, even if he scores more than ever. Because Mike D’Antoni believes in 7 Seconds Or Less basketball — and you can divide 48 minutes into an awful lot of 7-second slices. Possessions won’t get precious till the postseason in Houston. That’s how it was in Phoenix back in Steve Nash’s stellar days with D’Antoni. You remember all those Suns trips to the NBA Finals? No?
Harden will get those assists because he’ll be kicking it out on occasion, unless they change the rules again and let him take five steps now on the way to the basket. The Rockets player that best fits D’Antoni’s dream is Eric Gordon, the excellent shooting guard last with the Pelicans. Gordon isn’t set to start — Patrick Beverly will have to anchor the defense — but he could crack the starting five if D’Antoni goes small ball with his 1-2-3 positions. The Rockets went 41-41 last year and disappointed. They’ll likely make the postseason this year based on talent and drive alone, but it’ll be interesting to see if they can build a machine that can thrive when the game slows down — and one in which Harden is the best, but not the only option. Gordon — if he stays healthy — will be key.