New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson and the Willie Green effect

Head coach Willie Green of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts against the San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Head coach Willie Green of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts against the San Antonio Spurs (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans has not had much stability in his young career.

He’s missed nearly two full seasons with injuries and in that time the Pelicans have had three different head coaches.

Head coach Willie Green showed himself to be one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks, as he helped guide the Pels back from a horrible start to eventually make the playoffs, and that was with Zion Williamson in street clothes for the entire season.

The Pelicans rallied around their young coach, and have bought into his philosophy, which has a team first approach to everything.

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Unlike his predecessors, the Pelicans’ organization seems 100 percent behind Green and there are going to be some big differences in how his handles Zion Williamson.

New Orleans Pelicans: Willie Green’s effect on Zion Williamson

It’s more about the team

Stan Van Gundy made Zion the focal point of the offense, turning him into a point guard and unleashing a force like the NBA had never seen.

This is clearly a role Zion can thrive in as an individual, but it might not have been best for the team, a the Pelicans’ half court offense was predictable and Zion ended up taking quite a beating as a point guard.

Coach Green stresses ball movement and team play, which should mean less Point Zion, fewer isolation plays and more sharing of the basketball.

This should be good for Zion, as he won’t be under as much stress to carry the entire offense and will hopefully take fewer hard fouls rumbling into the lane. We’ll still see plenty of Zion handling the ball, but not every time down the floor, which will hopefully keep his teammates more involved in the half court offense.

He’s got better weapons around him now, and coach Green will help Zion take advantage of that with a more balanced offense.

Zion Williamson will defend

One thing we know about Willie Green is that he is going to stress defense. The Pels’ defense was still middle of the pack last season, but it was a huge improvement from the season before, especially in points allowed.

Coach Green made defensive effort one of his non-negotiable rules and that is going to apply to the superstars as well.

Zion was a very good defender in his one year in college, but definitely lacked on that end at times in his one full season in the NBA.

Hopefully Coach Green will get Zion to buy-in on the defensive end, as he can be a disruptive shot blocker, especially from the weak side.

With guys like Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado around him, Zion is going to be more motivated on the defensive end and will hopefully improve there under coach Willie Green.

Zion might be happy?

The body language for the young New Orleans Pelicans under coach Stan Van Gundy was often terrible, and it never really looked like the team was having any fun.

Coach Green has a much different style, as he is very calm, exudes confidence and doesn’t need to constantly yell at players to get their attention.

This seemed to work with his young roster last season, and led to one of the most inspiring moments of the playoffs with his “you’ve got to fight” speech, which I still watch all of the time when I need motivation.

The Pelicans have better chemistry than they ever had under Van Gundy, and Zion should benefit from that by being on a happy team whose players all get along and like each other.

Willie Green helped bring new life to the New Orleans Pelicans last season, and is going to have a positive effect on Zion Williamson once he is back in the huddle.

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