If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
The NBA is a very different league then it was in the past, and teams operate by playing smart, fast, and by shooting excessive amounts of threes.
Earlier this summer Demps fired Pelicans Head Coach Monty Williams and after an excruciatingly thorough search process, Alvin Gentry has been named their new Head Coach.
Alvin Gentry fits exactly the type of style Dell Demps wanted to emphasize.
Monty ran a slow-paced half court offense, while Gentry is going to have this team running 100 mph and taking full advantage of their athletic abilities.
Alvin Gentry was the Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns in the later years of the Steve Nash era, and despite the team being old and well past their primes, they finished 2nd in their division three out of the five years that he coached them.
A division that included a prime Kobe Lakers team and the Tim Duncan Spurs.
To add to his success, he was able to coach that old and worn down Suns team to the Western Conference finals. With the Pelicans recent playoff disappointment, having an experienced coach with playoff expertise is exactly what the Pelicans need.
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In game three this post-season, the Pelicans gave up a 20 point fourth quarter lead to the Warriors, because they stagnated, and couldn’t find a rhythm on offense.
Gentry is the perfect coach to aid these late game struggles, he is exceptionally good as an offensive coordinator and excels drawing up plays out of timeouts (an area Monty always fell flat).
In the regular season, Gentry’s 2010 Suns with a 35-year-old Steve Nash were 1st in points per game, 1st in offensive rating, and 4th in offensive pace.
He did that by running an advanced pick and roll system centered around the athleticism of Amar’e Stoudemire.
Now Gentry will have Anthony Davis to work with, who is was already better this season then Prime Amare had ever been, and his pick and roll centric offense will benefit Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans as well.
Tyreke and Jrue are more athletic than any guards Gentry has had available to him, and he will maximize their potential with this team.
Apr 7, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) dunks over Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Though he excels as an offensive coach, Greg Popovich has remarked that Gentry was instrumental in improving the Sun’s defense in the post D’antoni era, and isn’t the defensive liability some people make him out to be.
The defensive faults of those classic Suns teams had more to do with their personal than Gentry falling flat.
37 year old Grant Hill, 35 year old Steve Nash, and notoriously bad defender Amar’e Stoudemire made up the core, so it’s unfair to blame that team’s defensive struggles on him.
Regardless, bringing in Mike Malone or another defensive assistant would be a huge success for the Pelicans this offseason.
Since his Suns years, Gentry has served as an associate head coach under Steve Kerr with the Warriors, who won 67 games this season.
Mar 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) and assistant coach Alvin Gentry against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Warriors defeated the Suns 98-80. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
That record is tied for the fourth greatest record in NBA history, and Kerr gives Gentry a lot of credit for their offensive success.
Though a strong defensive assistant may be necessary, Alvin Gentry will transform this offense into something amazing.
Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter were the 2nd best three-point shooting duo in the league post All-Star break this season, Ryan Anderson is one of the best stretch 4s in the league, and Luke Babbit’s shooting was +50% for most of the season.
Expect Gentry to run lineups of (Jrue or Tyreke)-Gordon-Pondexter-Anderson-Davis, running fast paced offensive plays and sending Davis barreling down the lane.
This team is young, fast, and perfectly assembled to play under Alvin Gentry. With the increase in pace, don’t be surprised if Anthony Davis averages close to 30 a game next season…..