Please Just Give Zion Williamson to Mike D'Antoni And Let Them Cook
By Liam McKeone
After several years of success as head coach of the Houston Rockets, Mike D'Antoni is once again in search of a job. The 68-year-old announced his decision to leave Houston soon after his Rockets fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games of the second round of the playoffs. The parting was rather messy from all reports, specifically between D'Antoni and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.
The end result, though, remains the same. D'Antoni needs a new home, and it's a pretty good offseason to be a decorated former head coach looking for a gig. There are job openings in Indiana, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City. Each of those teams offer their respective benefits, but only one would result in the kind of D'Antoni high-flying offense we've come to know and love over the last decade and a half: D'Antoni must take over the Pelicans and team up with Zion Williamson to create content.
D'Antoni probably isn't the best coach for this team in a vacuum. Brandon Ingram, 2020's Most Improved Player, certainly does not have trouble scoring the basketball, which is D'Antoni's speciality. Williamson doesn't need the space D'Antoni's system provides to make an impact, and the franchise might be better served going with a younger coach who can grow with his players and presents more balance in terms of offense vs. defense. The Pelicans can't afford to get this hire wrong as they embark on the next chapter of the organization's future, and going with D'Antoni is risky, especially given his lack of playoff success over the years.
But let's throw all reason aside, because Williamson in the D'Antoni system would just be so sick. The Pelicans star looked slow and unsure of himself when the season restarted in the bubble, so nobody is sure how he'll look when the next season comes around at a still-undetermined future date. But in the likely possibility he comes back as the high-flying star we saw a glimpse of over the winter, Williamson would be putty in D'Antoni's hands. He's a gravitational force out there. Defenses are forced to tilt his way because he's a constant threat to explode towards the basket.
D'Antoni made his name in the NBA by revolutionizing offensive schemes and giving Steve Nash a ton of room to work with in the half-court and transition game. The Pelicans do not have Nash, but they have a player who can similarly bend defenses to his will, if in an entirely different manner. Williamson is already a monster in transition, but getting a coach who is especially good at that sort of thing would unleash him in ways we cannot yet imagine.
D'Antoni and Williamson are a match made in heaven. Let's make it happen.