clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Monty Williams could take Pistons beyond rebuild with sophisticated offense, high-level leadership

Detroit could be in position to add another recent Coach of the Year recipient

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

I’ve been lucky enough to cover the Phoenix Suns over the past few years and have had a close watch on them for Monty Williams’ entire tenure. That tenure came to an end Saturday night as new owner Matt Ishbia decided to part ways with the veteran head coach. Now, I feel a bit unlucky to cover his departure from the team after developing a very real admiration for Williams as a person and coach.

Here’s how each of his four years leading the Suns finished:

  • 2019-20: 8-0 in the bubble (34-39)
  • 2020-21: Lost to Milwaukee Bucks in six games in the NBA Finals (51-21)
  • 2021-22: Lost to Dallas Mavericks in seven games in the second round (64-18)
  • 2022-23: Lost to Denver Nuggets in six games in the second round (45-37)

He took a team that was 87-241 over the four years prior to a 194-115 record in his four years at the helm (h/t Kellan Olson). He also won NBA Coach of the Year following his third season after leading the Suns to their best regular season record in franchise history, which was also the best in the NBA by about eight games.

Yes, the Suns’ playoff exits have tasted quite bitter these past two seasons (back-to-back years of trailing by 30 at half in a home elimination game), but make no mistake: Williams was instrumental in changing the culture and steadying the ship in bringing the Suns back to relevance.

The Detroit Pistons searching for a head coach for the first time in five years and have a young crew on a ship that could use some steadying, Williams should no doubt be in the conversation.

The Pistons have missed the playoffs each of the past four years while Williams has a three-year streak of getting beyond the first round at the very least. He expects to win in ways you don’t usually get from teams picking so high in the draft, and that could prove vital as young players like Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and another top 5 pick (Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, Bradon Miller, Amen Thompson, etc.) look to take the next steps in their careers.

Assuming he’d continue the same offensive philosophy, Williams ran what he called a “point-five offense,” referring to the 0.5 seconds he wants players to spend with the ball before they make a decision to drive, pass, or shoot. He values quick processors and confident, instinctual connecting pieces around his focal points.

By his own admission, they got away from point-five a bit in the playoffs, but that might just be the bargain you make when you add a singular offensive talent like Kevin Durant to your team. However, it became pretty clearly both early and throughout his tenure that when the offense was clicking, it was gorgeous to watch.

Over the years, Williams has let the media in on some of his “Monty-isms” that he uses when guiding the team. They’ll make for good tweets out of practice as well as just warm your hearts. Some of the best:

Williams is likely going to be a highly sought after candidate for job openings around the league, including the one in Milwaukee. He already has had some run-ins with Giannis Antetokounmpo:

While a three-man finalist group has already been reported, they all lack NBA head coaching experience to any degree while Williams clears with nine seasons leading the show under his belt. Weaver making this call could signal an effort to fast track the team’s road map to a playoff return.