(Photograph by Michael Reaves/Getty Photos)
Stan Van Gundy is out as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans after a single season within the massive straightforward.
Van Gundy and the Pelicans mutually agreed to half methods, per the official model launched by the staff, however these items are often not as easy because the platitudes suggest. As an alternative, the chances are this end result was simplified for the Pels’ determination makers after a disappointing season. New Orleans failed to ascertain an identification on both finish of the ground and, extra importantly, didn’t even qualify for the play-in event.
It’s true that Van Gundy needed to deal with a stacked NBA panorama, not simply within the Western Convention. For proof of that on a person degree, simply have a look at all of the discourse surrounding the All-NBA groups that had been lately launched. Collectively, it’s nonetheless shocking that final season’s NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers, even accidents apart, needed to scratch their approach out of the play-in and had been then eradicated within the first spherical of the playoffs.
Nonetheless, my feeling is that Van Gundy’s job with the Pelicans was in the end subpar. It’s true that the blame shouldn’t fall solely on him. In spite of everything, he was coping with a poorly constructed roster that didn’t give room for a lot flexibility when it comes to rotations and subsequently trades. However what Van Gundy may management, he didn’t do in addition to one may count on for an skilled NBA head coach.
As somebody who watched each single minute of all the Pelicans’ video games, the most important query mark surrounding this squad was their identification from a basketball standpoint. Van Gundy’s defensive ethos was theoretically the principle motive he was even employed within the first place, given former head coach Alvin Gentry’s poor job on that finish of the ground, however the Pelicans had been terrible on protection all season lengthy.
I wrote about this all through the season, however the Pelicans didn’t enhance at throughout their 72 video games. New Orleans ended twenty second in defensive score, conceded the second most three-point pictures of any staff whereas being twenty seventh in treys allowed, and by no means confirmed any urgency bettering. Closeouts had been lazy, rotations had been late, and energy was poor all 12 months.
In fact, Van Gundy can’t get on the court docket and do these issues for his gamers, however when these issues are recurring, it’s important to elevate your eyebrows and marvel if the motivation is there.
Offensively, the Pelicans had been shockingly uncreative for such a dynamic roster. Though the pure spacing of the squad wasn’t as much as scratch for the trendy NBA, Van Gundy nonetheless had some nice items to work with, beginning with New Orleans’ massive three.
Brandon Ingram is without doubt one of the NBA’s finest three-level scorers who has taken a step ahead yearly. Lonzo Ball is without doubt one of the NBA’s most unorthodox level guards, however nonetheless probably the greatest playmakers within the league whose three-pointer made an enormous leap. Lastly, Zion Williamson is a generational expertise primed to be one of many NBA’s faces of the long run—and he may also now be getting into his third season within the league together with his third completely different head coach.
I’ve seen Van Gundy get some credit score for unlocking “Level Zion,” however I might argue that he truly deserves some criticism for taking so lengthy to take action. Early within the season, Williamson was primarily used as a post-up participant, whereas anybody who noticed him for an prolonged interval at Duke may have seen that he’s at his finest making choices with the ball in his arms.
Past Ball, Ingram, and Williamson, I might argue that Van Gundy did an honest job, nonetheless. Josh Hart had a great season earlier than getting injured, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes actually began to develop in the direction of the tail finish of the 12 months, Kira Lewis Jr. was given a reasonably lengthy leash for a rookie, and Naji Marshall consolidated himself as an NBA participant.
Nonetheless, the fact of the scenario is that none of these 5 rotation gamers can get the Pelicans over the hump within the pursuit of their first-ever championship. Though Van Gundy shall be an necessary footnote of their early careers, their improvement was not essential sufficient to dictate his end result as head coach.
Seeking to the long run, the brand new head coach choice is evidently necessary, however I might argue that stability is much more key.
What sort of message is Williamson receiving when there isn’t a peaceful second in New Orleans—all of the whereas most likely seeing all forms of speaking heads saying that he can have a greater profession in a unique market?
What makes an necessary restricted free agent like Ball or Hart actually need to keep in New Orleans when their roles change from season-to-season?
I imagine that the Pelicans made the proper selection in parting methods with Van Gundy, a coach that attempted his finest and dealt with himself with dignity however simply failed to attach with this roster, however it’s their subsequent determination that may hopefully show that the New Orleans Pelicans are capable of keep out of the headlines for the unsuitable causes.