In the event you’re going to alter from a coach who simply led you to 59 wins and is a favourite to win Coach of the Yr within the NBA, then typical logic would dictate that you must most likely veer in a unique course altogether. That’s what it regarded just like the Raptors may be doing after they adopted their dismissal of head coach Dwane Casey with interviews for Euro teaching legend Ettore Messina and Euro taking part in legend Sarunas Jasikevicius to fill Casey’s spot.
As a substitute, it was one of many first teaching interviewees who obtained the Raptors job — Toronto assistant coach Nick Nurse, who made a reputation for himself together with his uptempo type as a coach in Britain and his willingness to take the idea of an offense based mostly solely on Three-pointers and dunks to the restrict in what was then generally known as the D-League.
The Nurse rent figures to have important bearing on two main parts of the Toronto group. On the ground, that part is middle Jonas Valanciunas, who was fast to choose up on the truth that Nurse’s imaginative and prescient of the way forward for the NBA was one thing he wanted to embrace. If Valanciunas desires to stay related within the NBA going ahead, he must grow to be a greater Three-point shooter.
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He actually tried final season, a lot of which was spent working with Nurse on his perimeter shot. Nurse and Valanciunas would launch 100 Three-pointers after each observe. Valanciunas had tried simply 4 Three-point makes an attempt earlier than final season. However because the Raptors went right into a revamp of their offense — one which Nurse helped spearhead, with the approval of Casey — getting Valanciunas to unfold his vary and discover some consolation zones past the arc turned a precedence. He shot 74 Three-pointers, and made 30 of them, for 40.5 p.c.
There are two methods to take a look at the hiring of Nurse from the attitude of a Valanciunas supporter. First could be that he doesn’t match the small-ball, Three-point-heavy course towards which Nurse will certainly take the offense. That’s already gotten renewed commerce discuss effervescent round Valanciunas.
However sources with data of the state of affairs say that’s not going, that Valanciunas and Nurse will go properly collectively. Valanciunas and Nurse had a great working relationship, and there’s a sense that Valanciunas will solely be inspired to develop extra confidence in his perimeter sport, in an effort to house the ground and create passing and driving lanes for guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
In the event you’re anticipating the Nurse rent to be the forerunner of a serious Raptors commerce, particularly one involving Valanciunas, know that it’s unlikely.
The second part of the Nurse hiring that will likely be underneath particular scrutiny within the aftermath of this choice will likely be basic supervisor Masai Ujiri. Give Ujiri credit score, through the years, for not coming into the Toronto group and clumsily wielding a machete. When he arrived, the thought was that he would hearth Casey and commerce Kyle Lowry — which he practically did, besides that the Knicks pulled out.
In the long run, Ujiri saved Casey on regardless of not having employed him. And Casey rewarded him by frequently enhancing the group till its breakthrough (within the common season, at the least) this 12 months. However now Ujiri is sticking his neck out, dumping Casey with out making a splashy new teaching transfer. Nurse has had a captivating teaching profession up to now, however the actuality is, he’s simply one other NBA second-seater till he proves he’s as much as the job.
Ujiri’s job isn’t in jeopardy, in fact, however the transfer from Casey to Nurse signifies that he’s feeling strain for change, that by some means the Raptors want to determine the way to win the playoffs, even it’s simply selling one of many assistants. It could have all made extra sense if Toronto had gone with a very outside-the-box choice as coach, however Nurse has at all times been an progressive thinker.
He’ll should innovate to get probably the most out of his middle, a participant whose limitations — up to now, at the least — have made him much less helpful within the fashionable sport. And he’ll should innovate to maintain his boss, Ujiri, away from the new seat within the close to future.
It wasn’t the anticipated rent. But when every little thing goes proper for Toronto and Nurse, it may gain advantage Valanciunas and Ujiri, two guys who must shine for this franchise to maneuver ahead.