A bold statement, I know, trust me I’m not one to say such things often. I feel though this one is highly warranted. Monty Williams thoroughly deserves to be the NBA’s coach of the year. After winning last month’s Western Conference coaching award it can be said that Williams thoroughly deserves the prestigious award as coach of the year.
It’s not that Williams has had success over a short period of time, it is that he’s completely flipped a team’s identity around. What was a weak defensive team is now one of the best. What was a bunch of shooters and Chris Paul, is now dynamic swing-men, shooters, defenders, David West and Chris Paul. He’s developed the team through trades, little known free-agent pickups and diligent game-planning. Not only that but he’s revitalized CP’s morale that has the organisations’ arrow pointing up.
The Philosophy Behind The Man
What makes Monty so much better than any other candidate is his confidence in himself and his beliefs. Never have I seen a coach so sure about the way they do things but also willing to listen to ideas on ways to improve. His knowledge of how to create a defensive system combined with his ability to connect directly with players allows him to maximise player production. It’s been proven in this season alone as he turned the 21st ranked defense into the 2nd ranked defense with much of the same core of players.
It’s be-known to the Hornets community that Monty is a religious man, his faith there is a strong as the faith in his players. Belief in himself and his system is extended to his players. Guys like Marcus Thornton have bought into the idea of investing time in the other side of the ball and his efforts have been rewarded.
It’s safe to say that not only is the organisation moving forward, but so too is its head coach.
Emeka Okafor’s Resurgence
I know usually it is tough to justify why one player is the reason for a coaches success, but I feel like Emeka is an indicator as to the significance of this turnaround. Last season it was apparent that Emeka struggled. Not just this but the coaching staff didn’t trust him in key, late game situations. The reasons for this were numerous (free-throw shooting, poor shooter) all of them offensive. As well Okafor struggled defensively constantly being out of position and having to face a quick guard making a simple cut to the basket. In short it was a disaster. A full offseason later, new head coach, health and new acquisitions and Emeka was primed to get back into form and boy did he. He went from 10.4 points to 11.1, 9.1 rebounds to 10.1, 1.5 blocks to 1.8. The changes aren’t absurd by they are markedly improved. Currently Okafor has the 3rd best points per 100 possession allowed, in the entire league. He has regained his confidence and in turn revitalized his career. It’s something that we discussed before, Monty’s philosophy combined with his skills in player development have equated to success.
Now an above average center is an All-Star candidate.
Expectations Severely Low
Something that reigns supreme over the coach of the year award is a familiar trend. Usually men who claim the award turn a dud organisation into a somewhat successful one. This is because the team has exceeded expectations. Many analysts had the Hornets placed outside the playoffs, this included the likes of Tim Legler, Marc Stein and others. But alas the Hornets are not only in playoff contention, but they have a chance to secure a top 4 position in the West.
Williams holds this over a guy like Tom Thibodeau (who’s Bulls were expected to be good after acquiring a number of big-time free-agents).
An identity has been lacking for this Hornets ball club for the past two years but Monty Williams has come in and turned that around with his class, vision, self-confidence and belief in his players. Even if it seems at times that Monty isn’t making the best of decisions he’s learning, and winning at the same time.