The Houston Rockets went all-in on the offensive mindset under coach Mike D’Antoni, and it’s paid off.

Houston exceeded expectations this season. Their 55-27 record lands them as the third-best team in the conference. That’s a huge jump from last year, where they squeaked into the postseason with a 41-41 record and were the eight seed. Mike D’Antoni has given the keys, the house and just about the whole city of Houston to James Harden, and that’s been a perfect marriage with the analytical approach of their organization.

Also Read: James Harden Is The NBA MVP

Harden is my MVP this season, as he led the NBA in assists with 11.2 per game (per Basketball Reference). He’s been having a better year than Steve Nash in his back-to-back MVP seasons under D’Antoni in 04-05/05-06. Harden is also putting up significantly better scoring numbers with 29.1 points per game while also having 8.1 rebounds. Additionally, he’s leading the league in offensive win shares and overall win shares, too.

Contrary to leading the NBA in turnovers, Harden’s actually had a lower turnover rate (19.5 percent) than Nash in his first MVP season (20.0 percent). That’s while having a better assist percentage than Nash in both of those seasons, as well. What makes Harden’s impact grander is that his usage is astronomically higher this year than Nash’s during his MVP years — 34.2 for Harden, 20.5 and 23.3 for Nash.

D’Antoni has fueled Houston’s engine in The Beard. He’s taken the reigns full-time at the point guard position, and that’s been the difference in this team this season in all facets.

According to NBA Stats, Harden is the first player in league history to have 2,000 points, 900 assists and 600 boards in one season.

He’s doing this with decent talent around him, but exactly not All-World players. D’Antoni’s system has enabled three-point shooters like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson to flourish in their new home, and Trevor Ariza has had an offensive rating of 112.9 this year (per new system has given Ariza a significantly better net rating of plus-5.7, compared to last season at just plus-0.4.

Also Read: Each MVP Candidate’s Best Game

It’s Harden’s perfect passes to the Rockets shooters coming out of pick-and-rolls with Clint Capela and Nene that have been so lethal, and credit D’Antoni’s masterful offensive system for that. SportsCenter reported that Harden was the first player in NBA history to score and assist on 2,000 points a single season. He’s truly been a different player this year. He’s the same Beard, but now a different beast under D’Antoni’s guidance.

Houston made the most threes per game of any team in the NBA with 14.4. That’s almost four more makes on a nightly basis than last year when they had 10.5. Their gunslinger approach is the reason Houston is third in the NBA in plus/minus at plus-5.8 (per Last year, they were just 15th in that category.

All things considered, D’Antoni was trusted by General Manager Daryl Morey to implement this all in analytics approach, and he’s delivered. Morey is definitely in the running for Executive of the Year, too. Clutch City is back, and D’Antoni should get another shot at the Spurs. That should be must-see TV, along with the matchup of MVP candidates in the first round with Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Follow me on Twitter