I can see why the common person would not think highly of this hiring, especially considering that one of the finalists was Jeff Van Gundy and one coach that recently has become available in Tom Thibodeau (even though he had no contact with the Pelicans regarding the position). Not to mention that Gentry's career record as a head coach is far from impressive at 335-370 at four previous stops.
But I think that that record, largely defined by several interim sessions, is not indicative of how good of a coach Gentry is. After all, there is a reason why he is highly regarded and well-liked throughout the league by fellow coaches and by players. Steve Kerr coveted him as his lead associate after being hired by the Warriors for a reason and that's been a move that I think has largely paid off.
What is also very important has to be the scheme fit between Gentry and the Pelicans as his fast-paced style is a much better fit for the roster, and the supremely athletic Davis, than a Van Gundy system and certainly a Thibodeau system. That seems to be the key reason why Gentry got this job:
Pels were 27th in pace last season. They chose Gentry because they want to unlock more of an up-and-down style with Anthony Davis and Co.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 31, 2015
But ultimately, this move centers around Davis as any coaching hire for this team should. The goal of the next coach and of the organization at-large has to be getting Davis to the next level and have him develop to be the guy that can lead the Pelicans to a championship. On an island, Gentry is not a better coach than Thibodeau is but I have no doubt in my mind that Gentry is a better fit for Davis than Thibodeau would be. Who couldn't see Thibodeau working Davis hard to win a meaningless game in December? Van Gundy is a better coach than either of them but his grinding style is also not a great fit for this roster either.Fact that Gentry was also part of a Warriors staff that oversaw the league's top-ranked defense this season, I'm told, also appealed to Pels— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 31, 2015
Gentry deserves credit for helping make a good Golden State offense great and he's the kind of coach that will use Davis the right way in order to help foster his talents. He is a better coach than his record would suggest and he makes a lot of sense right now in the Big Easy.