HOUSTON — Coach Stephen Silas was all smiles during the Houston Rockets’ introductory press conference to welcome the draft class of 2022. Each player selected during the 2022 NBA Draft can enhance the Rockets’ defensive struggles next season.
Silas has been adamant about improving Houston’s defense. And following the selections of Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr., Silas wasted no time orchestrating a new defensive game plan.
But like every coach in professional sports, Silas will rely upon his staff to assist in Houston’s defensive production. Unlike the previous two seasons, Silas has one of the best defensive-minded coaches on his staff in the acquisition of Lionel Hollins.
Hollins is one of three coaches added to Silas’ staff, as first reported by Fox 26 Houston Sunday night.
“The last time I did media availability, I talked about how I wanted our defense to get better,” Silas said on June 24. “Rafael [Stone] decided to draft three really good defenders who are great two-way players. Following the draft, I was on the laptop thinking of things we can do defensively and it’s going to be fun.”
Hollins’ four-year tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies best illustrates his defensive impact.
The Grizzlies established themselves as one of the best defensive teams with Hollins at the helm. Under Hollins, Memphis notched an average defensive net rating of 104.2 while holding their opponents to 97.7 points per game.
Hollins’ defensive schemes helped the Grizzlies reach the post-season in three out of his four years in Memphis and post a 58.2 winning percentage as head coach.
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During the 2019-20 season, Hollins’ defensive schemes helped the Los Angeles Lakers finish the year ranked third in defensive productivity en route to an NBA championship. He served as an assistant coach to Frank Vogel from 2019-2021.
The Rockets finished the 2021-22 season ranked as the league’s worst defensive team but constructed a defensive foundation for Hollins to utilize next season. Post-All-Star break, Houston produced a 116.2 defensive net rating.
“One of the main things I wanted to do this season, especially after the All-Star Break was to improve our defense,” Silas said. “We were 21st in defense after the break, which was a big jump from being 30th for most of the season and I am proud of that.”
The addition of Hollins to Silas’ staff indicates the profound commitment the Rockets have to defense. Hollins is joining the Rockets with nearly four decades of coaching experience. Whether head coach or assistant, Hollins has helped several teams improve their on-court production on the defensive side of the ball.
Joining Hollins as Silas’ new assistant coaches are Mahmoud Abdelfattah and Mike Batiste.
You can follow Coty Davis on Twitter @CotyDavis_24
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