Legendary coach Stan Van Gundy signed a contract Tuesday to be the New Orleans Pelicans new head coach. It was one of his former players, JJ Redick, that really helped him get this position.
Redick was part of the Orlando Magic squad that made the Finals in 2009. The team revolved around then all-star big man Dwight Howard. Certainly, Redick would have thought of this as a great opportunity to reunite with a great coach and restructure the Pelicans to function around 2019 first overall pick Zion Williamson truly. That Magic team had a loaded lineup with Howard, Redick, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rashard Lewis. With another solid team and Van Gundy as the coach, Redick sees a similar situation.
About the team, Van Gundy said, “They’ve got nine guys under the age of 25. So a lot of young talent, and a lot of veteran guys who are still very productive and high-character guys.” The similarities between the current Pelicans team and the 2009 Magic squad can be made. Also, at center, you have Zion Williamson, an upgrade to Dwight Howard’s shooting abilities. In the frontcourt, you have all-star Brandon Ingram, a versatile shooting forward with a playstyle similar to Rashard Lewis. In the starting backcourt, you have Lonzo Ball, a better version of Turkoglu. Jrue Holiday is a very similar player to Nelson in their shooting and attacking abilities. Then, there’s Redick off the bench, with a statistically better game than in 2009, now shooting above 45% from three.
It makes sense, then, that Redick would want to hire one of his best career coaches in Van Gundy. The only time Redick has made the Finals in his 15-year career was with Van Gundy in 2009. Hopefully, they can turn back the clock and make it there again.