For the third straight season, the New Orleans Pelicans will not participate in the NBA Western Conference Playoffs. After a surprising 2011 playoff appearance as a rookie head coach, Monty Williams has struggled in his next three seasons in New Orleans. However, Monty Williams deserves another chance to turn around the Pelicans’ fortunes.
After Chris Paul and David West left New Orleans, no one expected Williams to work any immediate miracles. With its two best players off the roster, New Orleans began a classic rebuilding process. But to be honest, with rumors of the team being sold and possibly relocating, on-the-court issues were the last thing fans were worried about in New Orleans.
Things didn’t get much better in 2012-13, but New Orleans did improve its record slightly. As I was watching and covering the team, I heard two major complaints about Monty Williams. First, Williams’ lineups and rotations defied logic. Second, New Orleans often collapsed in the second half and lost big halftime leads. In fact, these trends continued into the 2013-14 season when the Hornets became the Pelicans.
However, thanks to a five-game winning streak in late March, the Pelicans have already clinched another improved record. Also, Williams’ bizarre lineups and strange rotations have been forced on him this season thanks to an inexplicable rash of injuries. Pelicans star players Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday were lost for the season. Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis also have missed a number of games for the Pelicans.
When the Pelicans won five straight games in late March, they defeated a number of very good NBA teams. The winning streak included victories over the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers. In fact, when the Pelicans defeated the Clippers, New Orleans only had nine healthy players on its roster. And in the following game, the Pelicans lost Anthony Davis in the first quarter en route to a win over the Utah Jazz.
Despite being eliminated from the playoff chase, Monty Williams deserves an enormous amount of credit for keeping the Pelicans motivated to play their best every night. Some fans might say that NBA players are paid good money and they should play hard every night. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of other players and teams from going through the motions for the stretch run of this NBA season.
Another reason that Monty Williams should get another year to coach the Pelicans is that I never hear of any player unrest in New Orleans. Yes, there were times in the past that Eric Gordon voiced his displeasure with playing in New Orleans. And there were some minor rumblings of tension between Williams and Tyreke Evans. However, Pelicans players never go to the media to bury their coach as often happens in other NBA cities.
We have already seen what Monty Williams can do with a talented, healthy NBA team. This Pelicans’ roster is loaded with talent when everyone is healthy. What Williams has done with the injury-riddled Pelicans this season is remarkable. Clearly, Monty Williams deserves one more chance to bring the NBA Playoffs back to New Orleans.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Pelicans. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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