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Why Alvin Gentry Is the Right Coach for the New Orleans Pelicans' Future

this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; The Golden State Warriors ' Alvin Gentry is the right guy to lead the charge for the New Orleans Pelicans and become their next head coach. Gentry's offensive acumen and 26 years of experience on the NBA sidelines would be ...

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Old 05-20-2015, 10:31 AM   #1
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Why Alvin Gentry Is the Right Coach for the New Orleans Pelicans' Future

The Golden State Warriors' Alvin Gentry is the right guy to lead the charge for the New Orleans Pelicans and become their next head coach. Gentry's offensive acumen and 26 years of experience on the NBA sidelines would be beneficial to a young roster with a number of talented scoring options.

Despite making the playoffs for the first time since 2010-11, the Pelicans surprisingly fired head coach Monty Williams less than three weeks after the team was swept in the first round. Coincidentally, it was Gentry's Warriors who put the final nail in New Orleans' coffin.

In his press conference, general manager Dell Demps didn't give any specific reasons for Williams' termination, instead calling it an "organizational decision" that was "best for the long-term success of the Pelicans." However, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported the decision may have been based on a power struggle between Williams and Demps, which the GM denied during his conference.

"General manager Dell Demps had been wrestling for greater control of the franchise and pushed out Williams," Wojnarowski wrote. "Around Williams' staff this season, there was a sense of decreasing management support and unnecessary obstacles, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

With the 22-year-old Anthony Davis as the franchise cornerstone and eligible to sign a gargantuan max contract extension this offseason, the Pelicans' job is the most attractive opening currently available, and New Orleans wasted little time lining up candidates. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the team already has Gentry on its radar:

The 60-year-old Gentry is a well-traveled sideline sergeant with previous head coaching stints with the Miami Heat, the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. With Gentry as Steve Kerr's right-hand man, the Warriors led the league in scoring at 110 points per game and ranked second in offensive efficiency with a rating of 109.7, per ESPN's Hollinger stats.

While Davis has quickly built a reputation as one of the best players in the league as well as an elite shot-blocker, New Orleans would be better off hiring a coach who can help the team realize its offensive potential. In Davis, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have a good arsenal to build around.

However, all of that offensive firepower needs a creative mind to maximize its potential and find enough touches for everyone to be happy. This is where hiring Gentry comes in.

Williams' record seemed to improve as the team found ways to add more talent over the past four seasons. After Chris Paul was traded prior to the 2010-11 campaign, Williams guided the franchise from 21 wins in 2010-11 to 27 in 2011-12 to 34 last year before notching 45 victories this season.

However, Williams' teams struggled mightily on the offensive end. The club never finished better than 16th in scoring and consistently finished near the bottom in PACE (estimated possessions per 48 minutes) during Monty's tenure. Despite having quality outside shooters in Anderson and Gordon, the Pels weren't very active behind the arc in the last half-decade.

Also, the team waited too long to make Davis the focal point of the offense, as he averaged 17.6 field-goal attempts in the regular season. In the playoffs, that number jumped to 21.8 takes per game, which resulted in The Brow leading all postseason participants in scoring (31.5 PPG). By then, it was too late, though.

Conversely, Gentry learned the value of uptempo basketball as an assistant under Mike D'Antoni and Terry Porter in Phoenix. In his first full season as head coach of the Suns in 2009-10, Gentry led his men to top spots in scoring (110.2 PPG) and three-point accuracy (41.2 percent) as well as fourth in PACE (95.3), per Basketball-Reference.com. The darlings of the desert also finished 54-28 and made it to the Western Conference Finals.

Even before Gentry arrived in Arizona, his squads in Miami, Detroit and Los Angeles had a love for shooting threes. Now that he's adjusted his offensive philosophy to move at a faster pace, his scheme is perfect for today's NBA. That's the main reason the Warriors pried him from Los Angeles last summer and made him the highest-paid assistant in the league.

All four of the teams currently remaining in the playoffs finished in the top seven in three-point attempts during the regular season. Additionally, the Warriors and the Houston Rockers were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in PACE, per ESPN's Hollinger stats.

So, what does this all mean for Gentry and the Pelicans?

The Pelicans have a young, athletic roster that is built to run with Holiday as its orchestrator. When Holiday was on the court, the team's PACE rating was 95.5. When he wasn't, that number dipped to 92.8, per NBA.com. When he came back as a reserve in mid-April, NOLA's PACE pushed to 97.1 with him on the floor. Holiday must find a way to stay healthy after two straight seasons hindered by leg issues.

The Pelicans' record during those three games was 2-1, including a huge win over the San Antonio Spurs in the regular-season finale, which clinched a playoff berth.

Gentry's knack for utilizing shooters benefits the Pelicans as well. Luke Babbitt led the league with a 51.3 percent clip from three. Meanwhile, both Anderson (41.7) and Gordon (40) shot at least 40 percent from downtown this season, while Holiday is a career 37.6 percent three-point marksman.

By further establishing those three men as threats on the perimeter, there will be more space for Davis to do his thing in the post as well as less congestion when Evans drives to the hoop. Even in Williams' struggling offense, Evans and Davis combined to score 41 points per game this season.

Injuries forced Evans and Davis to play major minutes and assume a bigger chunk of the offensive workload. One of the chief tasks for Gentry will be finding a way to spread the ball around and keep players who are used to dominating the ball, such as Evans, happy.

The defensive aspect is the main drawback to a potential Gentry hire. Gentry's Suns teams never rated high on that end of the court, but they did earn some kudos from Gregg Popovich during the 2010 Western Conference Finals, per Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times.

"One thing about Phoenix is they are better defensively than in the past," he said. "They're much more active, much more committed, they've taken responsibility to a much more significant degree than ever before."

Gentry could shore up his shortcomings by bringing in a defensive guru, much like Kerr did with Ron Adams in Golden State. While Demps could opt for a defensive-minded head coach like the Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau, it would take time and some roster-shuffling for the Pels to be an elite defensive unit.

It's worth noting that, even with defense being Williams' area of expertise and the presence of Davis and Omer Asik, the Pelicans failed to finish as a top-10 defense this season.

That's why hiring an offensive mastermind such as Gentry makes the most sense for New Orleans' long-term growth.

Led by Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans have the potential to be a postseason staple and future championship contender. They just need an experienced coach who can point them in the right direction and maximize their talent.

Williams helped bring the Pelicans to the show.

Gentry is the man who can keep the rhythm flowing.

Read more New Orleans Pelicans news on BleacherReport.com

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