After a disastrous 2019-20 season and a search that lasted 2 months, New Orleans Pelicans have signed Stan Van Gundy as their Head Coach. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, they have agreed to a 4-year contract given his coaching history with young players.
Sources: Stan Van Gundy agreed to a four-year deal to be the new Pelicans head coach.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2020
Despite landing the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans failed to make it to the playoffs. Zion Williamson, who was an integral part of Pelicans’ revival later in the season, was unable to carry them in the bubble. Even though there were rumors about NBA’s continuous efforts to ensure Zion Williamson vs LeBron James round 1 in playoffs, Pelicans were one of the first teams to get knocked out in the seeding games.
If Pelicans are in better shape next season with a healthy Zion Williamson, this young core has the ability to clinch 6th or 7th seed in the western conference with coach Stan Van Gundy. Reportedly, Pelicans were impressed by Van Gundy’s abilities as a teacher for the young core and his vision for the roster in place.
What’s expected of Van Gundy given his coaching history is to improve Pelicans defensively, which Alvin Gentry failed to do during his tenure. The hiring was later confirmed by Stan Van Gundy via a tweet where he expressed how thrilled he was to be appointed as the head coach.
I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team. It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) October 21, 2020
Stan Van Gundy’s first task is to improve New Orleans Pelicans Defensively
The Pelicans have two all-star level players in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram however, Alvin Gentry was unable to make most of it due to injuries. However, there is no reason why New Orleans ranked #21 in the NBA defensively last season which only worsened in the bubble.
Stan Van Gundy coached Dwight Howard in his prime and led his to three consecutive defensive player of the year awards. This goes on to prove how effective his teaching methods are upon young players. However, his stint with the Detroit Pistons was unsuccessful because he tried to juggle between two positions. But that won’t be the case with Pelicans as they have a well established front office.
He must lift them up on the defensive end with Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart as the main focus and run offense through Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.