Why Pistons fans should be ecstatic about Monty Williams

When people think about the Pistons’ new coach, the first thought that comes to mind is “Wow, that seems like way too much money.” Detroit signed Williams to a lucrative six-year, $78.5 million contract this past June, a figure that firmly puts him in the driver’s seat as the highest-earning coach in the NBA. For reference, upstart guard Austin Reaves just signed a four-year, $56 million deal just the other day. Personally, I have never seen a coach making more money than a top three player on a team. So why should Pistons fans be excited for Monty? I mean, it seems like way too much money for a coach, right? Well, first let’s dive into Williams’ history before joining Detroit.

Born on October 8, 1971, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Williams has had a successful career, both as a professional player and a coach. Williams attended the University of Notre Dame, where he played college basketball for the Fighting Irish from 1989 to 1994. He was known for his strong defensive skills and leadership on the court. In his senior year, Monty served as team captain and helped lead Notre Dame to the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish reached the NCAA Tournament in three out of his five seasons, with Williams’ final season in 1993 being his most successful, as Notre Dame fought all the way to the Sweet Sixteen before they were eliminated by the eventual champion, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Having averaged 16/7/2 in college, the New York Knicks selected Williams at 24 in the 1994 NBA draft, where he would play for two seasons before being traded to the Spurs for Brad Lohaus, of all people. Williams would play 10 years in the NBA in total, including stints in Denver (1998-99), Orlando (1999-2002), and finally Philadelphia, where he retired in 2003. While Williams never achieved superstar status as a player, he was highly regarded for his work ethic, character, and defensive abilities. He was known as a consummate professional and a team-oriented player.

Soon after his retirement, Williams transitioned to coaching in the NBA. He joined the Portland Trail Blazers as an assistant coach, serving from 2005 to 2010, until he signed with the New Orleans Pelicans (at the time the New Orleans Hornets) in 2010, in what would be his first stint as a head coach. during his tenure in the city of Jazz, Williams emphasized defensive principles and instilled a strong team culture. He guided the Pelicans through some challenging seasons and helped develop young talent like Anthony Davis. Under his leadership, the team made the playoffs in the 2014-2015 season, where they had a memorable first-round series against the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors.

After this series, Williams was let go and spent a brief period as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder (2015-2016) before joining the coaching staff of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016. He played a significant role in helping the 76ers improve their defensive performance and reach the playoffs in subsequent seasons. Soon after, Williams became the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, in what would be his most impressive tenure as a coach.

When Williams signed in 2019, he was taking over a Phoenix team that had finished with an awful 19-63 record. Under Williams’ guidance, the Suns had a remarkable turnaround, improving to a respectable 34-39 record the following year. This was just the start though, as the year after, Monty brought the newly built Suns who had added veteran Chris Paul to a 51-21 record the following year, as well as a finals appearance, Phoenix’s first in 28 years. Williams continued the upsurge of Phoenix, as the following year, they had a staggering 64-18 record, which was capped off by Monty winning . Unfortunately for the Suns, the season ended on a bad note, with Luka Doncic single-handedly dismantling Phoenix in the western conference semifinals, ultimately winning by 33 points. The next year was even worse, as Phoenix ended with a poor 45-37 record in comparison to their last few years of brilliance. They added generational forward Kevin Durant but with chemistry issues, as well as questions about Deandre Ayton, the Suns once again ended the season in embarrassing fashion, losing in game 6 to the eventual champion Nuggets by 25 points. After this, Williams was let go by Phoenix, leaving many fans wondering if this was the right decision.

So now, a new era begins for Williams, in Detroit. The young pistons are built very similarly to the Suns of 2018-19, with a rising star in Cade Cunningham, similar to NBA superstar Devin Booker, who was coming up in 2019 at the time of Williams’ signing. Monty is known for his ability to develop young players, as well as his skills as a defensive coach. Detroit has one of the five youngest rosters in the NBA, with an average age of 24.4, including combo guard Jaden Ivey (21), big man Jalen Duren (19), and newly drafted forward Ausar Thompson (20). This is not even including the franchise’s centerpiece, Cade Cunningham, who is only 21 years old. The addition of Monty Williams will be fantastic for the Pistons’ development of these extremely young players, as well as having someone to look up to, with Monty having so much experience as a player in both college and the NBA. Detroit also had the fourth-worst defense in the league, allowing 118.52 points per game on average throughout the season. For reference, the Suns last year had the 6th best defense in the league, despite them having an off year.

With the addition of veteran coach Monty, Pistons fans should be looking forward to a young Detroit team that has the chance to be the most competitive they have been in a long time, and we should all be looking forward to the Williams era in the D.

6 thoughts on “Why Pistons fans should be ecstatic about Monty Williams

  1. Great insight! I’m very optimistic. Allowing 118.5 per game was arguably a criminal offense even in today’s high scoring gameplay. Long gone are the days of Big Ben and Sheed in the paint, but here’s to the new generation!

  2. With a new young lineup for the Pistons, I wonder how Williams will mold these new players and improve the team as a whole. They have a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to see how they will grow!

    1. Thanks for the response Josh! It is going to be interesting to see how the young players progress under Monty’s guidance in the next few years.

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