After Alvin Gentry was fired, the New Orleans Pelicans’ head coaching gig became one of the most sought-after jobs around the league. It was an opportunity to work with one of the most anticipated young prospects in a generation, plus a talented core group that has yet to unlock its full potential.
The job ultimately went to Stan Van Gundy, a veteran coach whose last stint in Detroit didn’t go well, but who had built a reputation during his Orlando days as a forward-thinker who saw the three-point revolution coming and whose Magic squads were regularly among the best defensive teams in the league.
Now, he has the task of shepherding Zion Williamson through the early stages of his development as a pro. It’s an exciting place to be, but Van Gundy also knows that it’s a tremendous responsibility, and one that will call upon him to marshal all the knowledge of the game he’s acquired over the years to figure how to help Zion live up to his enormous potential. For SVG, part of that will entail a great deal of flexibility in how he plays.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 27, 2020
“I don’t look at him in any way, as far as, ‘Is he a four or a five?'” Van Gundy said. “I’m not sure those labels matter when it comes to him. I think as we study and try to get more definitive and talk to Zion about what he likes, I think it’s more what positions we want to put him in and who’s best around him and things like that. It’s not limiting him to a position.”
The Pelicans have a strong stable at guard and forward, with Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, etc., so one option is to go super small at times, with Zion at the center position. However, New Orleans also has an intriguing young center in Jaxson Hayes, who could figure into the mix depending on his development.
One thing is for certain: All eyes will be on SVG and New Orleans next season as a presumably full-healthy Zion and company look to make some noise in the Western Conference.