Van Gundy agrees deal to coach Zion Williamson & Pelicans

Oleh Nicholas McGee 22 Oktober 2020 4
Van Gundy agrees deal to coach Zion Williamson & Pelicans

Stan Van Gundy will get the chance to coach Zion Williamson after agreeing to take charge of the New Orleans Pelicans.

He will take over from Alvin Gentry, who was fired as head coach after the Pelicans failed to reach the playoffs, finishing a season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic 30-42 and 13th in the Western Conference.

Van Gundy's previous coaching stint with the Detroit Pistons came to an end in 2018. He has also had spells with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, leading the latter to the NBA Finals in 2008-09.

"I'm excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team," Van Gundy said in a tweet confirming his arrival. 

"It will be an honour to work with our players and to work for [owner] Mrs. Benson and [executive vice-president of basketball operations] David Griffin, [general manager] 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."

Key to that process being successful will be getting the best out of Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Williamson saw the start of his rookie season delayed by a torn meniscus suffered in preseason, though he was still able to demonstrate his tremendous potential when he did take the court.

He became the first teenager in NBA history with 10 successive 20-point games, but Williamson's impact after the resumption of the season in the Orlando bubble was limited by a minutes restriction placed on him by Gentry.

Despite his frustration at that decision, Williamson was still named to the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

If Van Gundy can harness that production over the course of a full season, then a talented Pelicans team that also features Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday will have a much-improved chance of contending for the postseason.

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Nicholas McGee

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