Williams Can Right the Pistons’ Ship

Ah, the Detroit Pistons, the team that’s been on a rollercoaster ride of misfortune and disappointment for way too many years. It seems like they’ve been stuck in a never-ending cycle of basketball woes, desperately searching for the light at the end of the tunnel by rebuilding, and rebuilding again, and rebuilding once more.

If you were to describe the Pistons’ recent fortunes in one word, it would probably be “ouch.” They’ve become the masters of mediocrity, consistently finding themselves in the land of “just not good enough.” It’s like they have a secret pact with the basketball gods to test the limits of their fans’ loyalty and patience.

Twice the Pistons were the powerhouse of the NBA: first the Bad Boys era; and second the “going to work” team that won the 2004 Finals. Those were the glory days. But alas, those days are about as distant as a fadeaway three-pointer.

The Detroit draft picks have been a mixed bag of “wait, who?” and “Oh, that guy!” It’s like they’ve been playing a never-ending game of “Where’s Waldo?” with their roster. And let’s not forget the revolving door of coaches. It feels like they change coaches as often as some people change their socks, desperately hoping to find someone who can sprinkle a bit of magic dust on the team.

But in May, the team surprised many when they signed Monty Williams as their head coach. It didn’t take long for Williams to find a new gig: he was fired by Phoenix after a sad playoff exit. His arrival now, in the Motor City is a triumph for the Pistons, who had to pay loads of money to lure him to Detroit.

With Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, and Killian Hayes (former first round picks all), the Pistons have oodles of young basketball talent. But that talent is as green as Yoda’s tonsils. Maybe Williams can teach them to meld together as winners. 

Williams Coaching Career in NBA

Williams started his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2005. He spent five seasons with the Blazers, working under head coach Nate McMillan. During this time, Williams established himself as a promising young coach in the league.

In 2010, Williams was named the head coach of the New Orleans Hornets. He took over a team that had just finished with a losing record, and under his leadership, the Hornets showed steady improvement. Williams guided the team to a playoff berth in his second season as head coach.

Unfortunately, Williams faced personal tragedy during his time with the Hornets. In 2016, his wife, Ingrid, died in a car accident. Despite this devastating loss, Williams displayed incredible strength and resilience, becoming an inspiration to many within and outside the basketball community.

It’s that resilience the Pistons will witness when Williams takes his whistle to guide the team.

After leaving the Hornets in 2015, Williams took on an assistant coaching role with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He worked alongside head coach Billy Donovan for one season before being hired as the assistant head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018.

In 2019, Williams returned to the head coaching role, this time with the Phoenix Suns. He inherited a young and talented team that had struggled to reach its potential. Under Williams’ guidance, the Suns made significant strides, finishing with an impressive 8-0 record in the NBA bubble during the 2019-2020 season. Although they narrowly missed the playoffs that year, the team’s improvement was evident.

The 2020-2021 season proved to be a breakthrough for both Williams and the Suns. The team finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Suns advanced to the NBA Finals, where they faced the Milwaukee Bucks but ultimately fell short, losing in six games. A franchise record 64 wins followed the next season, but when Phoenix fell in the conference semifinals a second straight time this past spring, the Suns axed Williams.

The Suns loss is the Pistons gain. Few NBA head coaches in recent history have shown the skill to guide a team to success. The Pistons have younger talent than even the Suns had when Williams arrived. Is it as good a roster as that team? It remains to be seen. But Detroit sports fans deserve to see if Monty can make a great deal.