All coaches have that persona they play too, how they shape their teams. Some coaches like to form their philosophy around the players they have, others integrate their system with the players they have. So the question becomes, how does Monty Williams like his teams to play? It becomes painfully obvious that Monty’s system will be somewhat similar to that of the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs, and that my friends is a great thing.
Do we know what ‘The Williams Way’ is? No not yet, but we can dissect the past to understand what the Hornets may look like under the youngest head coach in the NBA.
Looking into what the Spurs and Trail Blazers do both on and off the court we can better judge what the Hornets will do come October. Both Monty and Dell have a vision. Sure, they haven’t made it clear and concise to fans, but why would they? I’m sure that their plan of how to shape the organization would have been the reason why Paul decided to stick around. Comparing how Denver handled things and how New Orleans handled things it’s clear that one had coaching, managerial and organizational cohesiveness while the other had an uncertain coaching situation, no GM at the time and an organization that was hoping for the best. One was somewhat organized while the other was not.
Monty Williams began his coaching career after his playing career in the NBA. The influence of the Jeff Van Gundy must be taken into account when understanding Mont’s philosophy. The one word that can sum it up is defense. Along with Van Gundy there was Pat Riley who epitomized hard work, who extended this to Williams during his first year with the Knicks in 1994 as Frank Isola of the New York Daily News describes,
The one year Monty Williams spent under Pat Riley was the most crucial in his development not only as a player but as a future coach. Commitment, preparation and work ethic wasn’t something Riley just taught Williams, a former Knicks first-round pick in 1994. No, Riley demanded it from the wide-eyed rookie.
Having a philosophy that is defensively orientated doesn’t mean that offense is neglected into obscurity. For the Hornets this means that scoring will be set up by our defensive game. Looking at teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Trail Blazers, Spurs and even the Magic it becomes clear that defense is the vocal point.
In order to fit the mould of a team that focuses on defense the Hornets needed an athletic, defensive player at the wing position because Peja Stojakovic couldn’t cut the mustard. So the Hornets acquired Ariza in order to help Williams implement his system come training camp.
Look at the teams mentioned above, they all have athletic defensive players at the small-forward position:
- Lakers: Ron Artest
- Celtics: Paul Pierce
- Trail Blazers: Nicolas Batum
- San Antonio Spurs: Richard Jefferson
- Orlando Magic: Mickael Pietrus
It’s clear that Peja Stojakovic was not going to fit into that mould. Sure Monty wants shooters around Paul, i.e. the Marco Belinelli trade, but it’s clear that the team must have a balance of both shooters and defenders.
With this ‘team balance’ comes Williams’ biggest strength, communication. This is not just a case of relating to players, it’s the ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas by making the player understand these clearly and precisely. Players such as Nickolas Batum, Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster are all results of the Williams way.
It’s easy to just spitball a bunch of stuff that is right and wrong, but placing it in the context is what the Williams way is all about. He has gathered knowledge from a bunch of great coaches from around the league and has combined that with how he and others implemented it on the court. That transition of knowledge from coach to player can become lost, but being able to communicate it clearly is what sets apart Jeff Van Gundy, Greg Popovich, Nate McMillian, Pat Riley, Doc Rivers and hopefully Monty Williams from the rest.
To put it simplistically ‘The Williams way’ is three things:
- Defense (hard work)
- “Don’t screw up”