Mike D'Antoni has been an NBA coach since the 1997-98 season when he started as the director of player personnel of the Denver Nuggets' head coach Bill Hanzlik. Apart from being an assistant, D'Antoni coached the Nuggets in the 1998-99 season, but did not find much success.
He started coached the Phoenix Suns in the 2003-04 NBA season. On acquiring Steve Nash before the 2004-05 campaign, D'Antoni's offense became renowned for the fast-paced basketball they implemented.
He has not found success in terms of the Larry O'Brien NBA championship trophy. But D'Antoni has carved out a decent coaching career, leading a few teams to deep postseason runs, including the Suns and James Harden's Houston Rockets.
Mike D'Antoni's influence on the New Orleans Pelicans could be huge
After serving as an assistant coach to Steve Nash with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020-21 season, D'Antoni is now an advisor to the coaching staff of the New Orleans Pelicans, under coach Willie Green.
Given the offensive-minded nature of Mike D'Antoni's teams, the New Orleans Pelicans could hope for similar returns this season. On that note, here are three ways he could improve the Pelicans team:
#3 Despite lack of NBA titles, D'Antoni has been a successful coach
Mike D'Antoni's record as an NBA head coach is 672-527. The glaring problem for some of his best teams was the lack of postseason success.
D'Antoni's Phoenix squads ran into the formidable San Antonio Spurs and Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks. Meanwhile, the 2017-18 Houston Rockets (which posted the best record in franchise history), under D'Antoni, lost to the Golden State Warriors, who had Kevin Durant.
Although his teams were not known for having great defensive performances, the 2004-06 Phoenix Suns and 2017-18 Rockets were top 5 in Net Rating in those years. The Suns ranked below 15th in Defensive Rating, though.
#2 D'Antoni's experience could be key for the team's growth
Mike D' Antoni has been named the Coach of the Year winner twice during his 16-season managerial career. So he could impact the young New Orleans Pelicans leaders as well as the team's best players, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Last year, despite having one of the best young groups in the entire league, the New Orleans Pelicans failed to make the NBA Playoffs. They had a veteran coach in Stan Van Gundy, but things did not work out. However, a fresh start for the team's young players could mean they could benefit from D'Antoni's immense experience.
#1 Improve the New Orleans Pelicans' offense
Well, this is the big one. Mike D'Antoni could have a huge impact on the New Orleans Pelicans' offense, given what he has done in his previous managerial stints. D'Antoni is well known for the fast-paced offense he has successfully implemented, mainly with the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets.
Although that didn't translate to postseason success, the New Orleans Pelicans could improve their offense with D'Antoni's, if that is something coach Willie Green would like to do.
With Steve Nash running the show, the 2004-05 and 2005-06 Phoenix Suns were first in pace in the NBA, and were first and second in Offensive Rating, respectively.
The New Orleans Pelicans were ninth in pace last season, and their offense ranked 12th out of the 30 NBA teams (in Offensive Rating). In terms of points scored per game, the New Orleans Pelicans were ninth in the 2020-21 regular season, with 114.6 points per game.
With an explosive offensive leader in Zion Williamson, a fast-paced offense could be the way to go for the New Orleans Pelicans. Whether that brings success in the regular season and gets the team into the postseason is another story, though.
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