Why Monty Williams Is A Key Part Of The Pelicans’ Future


Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a bomb this week following the Pelican’s playoff clinching victory vs. the Spurs. He claimed the Pelican’s ownership had given an ultimatum to Monty Williams and Dell Demps at the start of the season.

This is potentially concerning to Pelican’s fans. If this is as black and white as Woj made it sound, then the team’s ownership should face serious criticism for how they have handled the situation.

Making a decision to keep the duo of Dell Demps and Monty Williams would have been fine, and a decision to let them go would have been acceptable as well. The issue is that it makes ownership look like they aren’t able to correctly judge their staff.

This season came down to the absolute wire.

The idea that one or two games should decide how a team handles their staff is ludicrous. Omer Asik NOT tipping in a last-minute Spurs bucket, Anthony Davis not hitting an insane 30 foot three vs. the Thunder, or Steph Curry hitting his final shot last month all could have potentially decided who is involved in the next half decade of Pelican’s management.

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Ric Bucher also claimed that Joe Dumars and Avery Johnson were being seriously considered to take the Pelicans GM and Head Coach position, if Monty and Dell got the boot.

Pelicans fans are very lucky this isn’t the case, not because Monty and Dell are the lesser of two evils, but rather because they are valuable individuals, and fit this team perfectly.

Here’s why the Pelicans are in great shape moving forward with Monty Williams at the helm.

Dec 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams talks with forward Ryan Anderson (33) during the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Jazz 119-111. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, the NBA world has decided Monty Williams is a terrible coach. The Media is constantly advocating for his removal, the fans repeatedly blame Pelican’s loses on him, and Bill Simmons loves to talk about how much Anthony Davis must resent having to play under such a travesty of a head coach.

None of these claims could be farther from the truth. Monty Williams isn’t perfect, but he’s been invaluable in the process of building the team that beat the Spurs earlier this week, and made the postseason for the first time in the last four years.

The first major criticism of Monty Williams is that his roster should be winning more games than they are. How can a team of Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik NOT win 50+ games?

Because those six players have played exactly 16 games together this entire season.

The Pelicans one of the youngest teams in the league, more than half their roster has never been to the playoffs, and their oldest players are Omer Asik, Dante Cunningham and Norris Cole.

How can a team with so many young specialized players be expected to build winning chemistry when they only get to play with each other for 19% of the season? They can’t, because continuity is the most underrated force in professional basketball.

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The Hawks have succeeded in no small part to their roster having been fortunate enough to build an elite level of continuity, and the Cavaliers took the first four months of the season to build chemistry and were seriously doubted by the media before they finally were able to attain it. What people should be asking is how the Pelicans have made it this far in the first place.

That’s not all Monty take’s heat for though, the second major criticism of Monty Williams is that the Pelicans have lost to bad teams this season. This is perfectly legitimate, the Pelicans have lost to 76ers, Nuggets, Kings, Magic, Jazz, Hornets and Knicks this season, but If the blame for losing these games falls on Monty then the credit for beating elite teams should as well.

The Pelicans have beat the Spurs, Hawks, Warriors, Cavaliers, Rockets, Clippers and Grizzlies this season, and Monty should then be praised for somehow leading this team past them. If a team had to lose “X” amount of games in a season, it makes more sense to lose to bad teams, who won’t ever be a real threat and beat true contenders, then it is to lose to elite level teams, and have your only victories come against tanking lottery teams.

The third criticism is that Monty has allowed his players, namely Tyreke, to make repetitive mistakes throughout the season. Tyreke Evans takes eternal heat for his signature “isolations” which time and time again serve to stagnate the Pelicans offense, and freeze out Anthony Davis.

Dec 4, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) forces a jump ball as New Orleans Pelicans forward Tyreke Evans (1) drives in between Thompson and forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 112-85. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Pelicans fans have claimed that Monty Williams should bench him in order to teach Tyreke a lesson, but the Pelicans roster earlier this season gave him no such option.

What was Monty going to do? He is coaching for his job, and he’s supposed to take Tyreke out in the 4th quarter and sub in who? Jimmer Fredette? Austin Rivers? John Salmons?

Monty Williams brought a team of misfit toys to the post season in one of the most stacked conferences in NBA history.

The Pelicans division alone includes the Spurs, Rockets, Mavs and Grizzlies who will are ALL be fighting for an NBA championship this summer.

He beat the Warriors and Spurs in vital games to close out the season, and has motivated and gelled this team despite their unforgiving injury history.

Monty Williams is also an amazing human being, and a true role model.

Earlier this season Ryan Anderson came forward to Sport Illustrated and told the tragic story of his girlfriend Gia Allemand’s suicide. In his story he explains his journey in the days following her departure, and the role Monty played in pushing him forward when he felt immeasurable pain.

Here’s an excerpt of their interactions from Chris Ballard’s piece on the recovery.

"“As they drove in silence, Williams kept thinking that it was fine if he blew a game, but he couldn’t mess up now. Once home, he huddled with his wife, Ingrid, and Ryan in the family room, praying. Ingrid’s brother had committed suicide recently. She knew not to say it was going to be O.K., because it wasn’t. “This is going to be hard for a long time,” she told Ryan.That night, as the family pastor came and went, Ryan cried so much that it felt as if he were dry heaving or bleeding internally. Each convulsion ripped his insides apart. Around 1 a.m., at Ingrid’s urging, Monty brought one of his sons’ mattresses down to the living room. There the two men lay through the night, Ryan curled on the sofa and his coach on the floor next to him. When Ryan wanted to talk, they talked. Otherwise there was only his muted sobbing. Finally, just after the sun came up, Ryan fell into a fitful sleep.”"

It’s rare and beautiful for a coach and player to share that kind of bond. Having a leader like that motivating and inspiring the Pelicans roster is invaluable, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Apr 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams celebrates with guard Eric Gordon (10) following a win against the San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Spurs 108-103 to earn the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Monty Williams is the gel that holds this team together, and star player Anthony Davis has nothing but love and appreciation for him. Williams has coached Davis since entering the league, and his been instrumental in the process of molding Davis into the monster he is today.

Shortly after their historic victory against the Spurs, Davis was quoted as saying “I love that guy” when asked about the head coaches role with the team.

The final important factor in the Monty Williams discussion is that he is the third youngest Head Coach in the league. He was highly coveted coming out of Portland because he is on the path to one day be a great NBA coach.

Greg Popovich is currently 66 years old, 23 years older than Monty Williams, who Popovich coaches himself when Monty played for the Spurs in the 90s. The fact that Williams out-coached him this week is both impressive and ironic.

Monty Williams is a great human, and a good coach.

He’s on path become a force, and it’s vital that the Pelicans keep him around throughout their journey to NBA contention.

One day a truly legendary Head Coach might show up, and then it might be time to let Monty go, but a rashly planned ultimatum to replace him with Avery Johnson this season was an embarrassing way to handle the situation……

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