New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Tournament: Fred Hoiberg vs. Kevin Ollie

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Published: May 15, 2015

The Case for Fred Hoiberg

by: Michael McNamara

Where do I begin? It seems like I have been banging the Hoiberg drum for so long that I don’t know how to sum up why I think he will be the perfect Head Coach for this franchise concisely. I guess I should start with what I am looking for in a head coach, and then go from there. For me, there are a few prerequisites, and they include:

1. An uptempo, creative, and efficient offense

2. The ability to grow over the years with AD

3. A guy who gets buy in and high effort from his players

Don’t get me wrong, I need defense too, but history has shown that there are plenty of good assistants who can bring that to the table. The head coach isn’t drawing up defensive plays at the end of the game in the huddle. Defense is based on principles and coaches need to hold players accountable to those principles, but they schemes can be enforced by assistant coaches. Monty had Mike Malone, Doc had Thibodeau, Steve Kerr has Adams, and on and on. I trust that Hoiberg, with all his NBA connections, can go find a brilliant defensive mind to take care of schemes.

But what gets me excited about Hoiberg is the fact that he can bring our offense into the 21st century, after watching 90’s basketball for much of the past 5 years. Holberg arrived at Iowa State in 2010 and introduced a fast paced, pro style offense immediately. They get into their offense early, almost never take long two’s, and concentrate on getting to the rim, the line, or shoot from behind the arc. Despite not having the talent that the big schools recruit, Iowa Stat has finished in the top 10 of adjusted offensive efficiency rankings every year for the last three years.

Hoiberg’s teams play the game at a fast, yet under controlled pace. They look for early offense, and even if they don’t get it in transition, they run a ton of screens and swing the ball from side to side in the half court. Basically, they are a nightmare to defend. And again, he has done this with marginal talent at best. Hoiberg has not coached a guy at Iowa State who even figures to be an NBA rotational player in his years there, but he had tremendous success nonetheless.

And to my third point, guys buy in to what Hoiberg is preaching; They believe in him because he has played at the highest level, and the stuff that he is running works. Check out this quote from a piece earlier this year in the Topeka Capitol-Journal

“We’re at the point now where we just don’t question anything he says,” ISU senior forward Dustin Hogue said. “If he says it, I guess it works.”

[…]

“I feel like, to an extent, it’s outsmarting our opponent if they’re going to shoot long 2s,” ISU forward Georges Niang said. “If we play in a game and you’re going to shoot long 2s instead of 3s, it just mathematically doesn’t make sense, and there’s proven facts behind that.”

Hoiberg is a smart ex-NBA player and executive who can both relate to players and see the bigger picture. He made chicken salad out of you know what, so can you imagine what he can do with a roster full of talent like the one New Orleans has? He can unleash Tyreke while also making Jrue a far more efficient player. He can get Ryan Anderson looks that he got once in a while here in the past, all the time. And man oh man, what he can do for Anthony Davis. AD put up a PER of nearly 31 while playing one of the slowest paces in the league. I mean, with AD developing a three-pointer, Hoiberg can run a lot of 5-out sets that he made famous with the Cyclones.  In Hoiberg’s system, every record AD goes after might just get demolished.

Which brings me to my last point with regard to Hoiberg, his age. His is 42 years old, with a long coaching future ahead of him. He will be able to grow with Anthony Davis over these next 10-15 years, and maybe form a dynasty together. Popovich was 47 when he took over the Spurs, Phil Jackson was 44 when he took over in Chicago. They both got their hands on all-time great players and grew together. That is what the Pelicans need here – an offensive innovator who gets buy in and can grow with their superstar.

Fred Hoiberg checks all the boxes.

The Case for Kevin Ollie

by: Beckett West

Anthony Davis AND Kevin Durant.

That’s the possibility that Kevin Ollie unlocks for you if he is the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, Ollie is a great coach in his own right (and we will get to that), but this has always been a players league and a guy who can coach AND recruit is more valuable than one who can just coach. Ollie has a relationship with Durant from their days playing together, and Durant himself said that it was Ollie that was responsible for changing the whole culture in Oklahoma City. Durant obviously has deep admiration for Ollie, and credits him with improving his mindset and professionalism.

And guess what? Kevin Durant is an unrestricted free agent next summer. A summer in which the cap skyrockets and the Pelicans could easily have the room to give him the max while also keeping Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis, Quincy Pondexter, and Tyreke Evans on the roster if they so choose. Or they can spin one of the guards off for another big. Point is, the Pelicans could easily have the two best players in the league 14 months from now, and that all starts with hiring Kevin Ollie.

But Ollie is not just a guy who might be able to recruit Durant, or even Westbrook in 2017, he is a fantastic coach in his own right that could bring out the best in the talent on the current roster. This time one year ago, Ollie was perhaps the hottest prospect on the market after leading UConn to the National Championship in just his third season as Head Coach. You read about what Ollie does well from the writers who cover him and it looks like he is the antithesis of ‘Bad Monty’.

For those who don’t want to click the link, I will summarize it for you:

1. Fantastic substitution patters

2. Excellent in-game execution

3. Calls timeouts at perfect times

4. The ability to dictate and exploit matchups

5. Being able to predict what will happen next

The guy has the ability to bring everything to the table that Monty brought (great with players, Christian principles, good leader, etc.) but every single one of Monty’s weaknesses that drove us crazy is a strength of Ollie’s. He has lead a team to a title with marginal talent, at best, and he is just getting started at the age of 42. His best years just might be ahead of him.

Oh yeah – and being able to secure us an elite small forward for once wouldn’t hurt too.

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