Over the course of his coaching career, Mike D'Antoni caught a lot of flack for his style and teachings, even during his days with the Phoenix Suns. However, there is no denying that the author of the 'Seven Seconds or Less' offense has been a great influence on today's modern game. We witnessed the culmination of his efforts in last year's Finals when the Golden State Warriors, the league's fastest offense, topped LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For years, the naysayers claimed a fast paced team was never going to win an NBA Championship. Forget the Charles Barkley's of the world, I'm talking about a lot of good intelligent minds truly believed a team with a core entrenched in a quick-strike offense would never overcome solid playoff defense.
Some might argue the Cavaliers team defense only ranked 18th, but don't forget the Warriors knocked out two top 10 defenses in the previous two rounds of the playoffs. Both the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies won a total of three games. In postseason basketball, that's a dominating performance, especially within the vaunted Western Conference.
Thus, it wasn't a surprise to see Alvin Gentry, once an assistant coach under D'Antoni, immediately give props to his former boss as soon as the corks were off the champagne bottles inside the trophy-winning locker room.
Victorious Gentry: "Tell Mike D'Antoni he's vindicated! We just kicked everyone's ass playing the way everybody complained about!"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) June 17, 2015
D'Antoni has not been officially employed in the NBA since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers several seasons ago. However, that doesn't mean league executives and various coaching staffs have no more interest in his expertise and knowledge. Last preseason, the Charlotte Hornets and Steve Clifford sought out D'Antoni's advice. To this day, players still get asked about his teachings.
David Lee says Brad Stevens has approached him about different aspects of Steve Kerr & Mike D’Antoni offenses on GSW & NYK.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) September 25, 2015
After Monty Williams was fired, there were plenty of voices giving support to Mike D'Antoni to be his replacement. So much so, Isaac decided to take a hard look at his coaching candidacy. Although it seems the Pelicans ended up with the best of both worlds in signing Gentry and Darren Erman, it should not be overlooked that D'Antoni still possesses a valuable mind.
Cool to see Mike D'Antoni here at #Pelicans training camp. He's basically the architect of the offense recent top Suns/Warriors teams used— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) September 29, 2015
Gentry has been in the league a long time, but as he'd probably admit, it never hurts to add another pair of eyes early in preseason, especially for a team that is radically looking to change their style. If D'Antoni is able to just positively influence just one player during a moment of time at the Greenbrier this week, it'll count as a win for Anthony Davis, the rest of his teammates and the entire New Orleans organization.