Toronto has brought in former Mavericks assistant coach, Dwane Casey to be the head coach for the 2011-2012 season and possibly beyond. I really like this hire for Toronto. Casey was credited for a lot of the defensive schemes and tactics that Dallas used in the finals (including that zone defense) to beat the Miami Heat and severely limit LeBron James’ scoring.
Essentially, the principle goal of the Casey hiring is to change the defensive culture of the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been known as a horrible defensive for the last five years or so, particularly over the last two seasons where they’ve finished dead last in the league in defensive efficiency rating (an abysmal 110.0 rating in 2010-2011). Dwane Casey is well-known for his activity on the sidelines (see picture above), and his willingness to get into players’ faces and make them accountable on defense. This is exactly what Toronto needs. Our defensive struggles have never really been about our players’ inability to protect the basket, especially considering that the majority of our guys are high-caliber athletes. Rather, the primary reason for our struggle was the inability of the coaching staff to make players accountable on defense. Jay Triano was much too passive with the team, which is why he was removed from his position. This almost indifference was powerful to the extent that even guys like DeRozan who were generally considered good defenders, were playing poor, lackadaisical defense. Casey should change all of that with his hard-nosed, in-your-face attitude as a coach.
Several Raptors fans have questioned this move though, and would have preferred to hire Lawrence Frank; who is more proven as a head coach after having some very successful runs with the Kidd-Carter-Jefferson New Jersey Nets. The preference of Frank to Casey is due to the latter’s lack of coaching experience. His only previous head coaching job in the NBA was with the Minnesota Timberwolves starting in 2005-2006 and ending midway through the following season. During Casey’s tenure, the team was 53-69, but it’s unfair to take that record at face value. That Timberwolves team was very mediocre in terms of talent during Casey’s tenure, with Kevin Garnett being the teams only true star. Despite this, Casey coached the team to the 10th best defensive efficiency rating in the league in 2005-2006, and had the team sitting at 20-20 and in a playoff spot prior to his firing. Of course, we already know about Casey’s body of work as an assistant coach in Dallas; and he brings championship pedigree (although as the #2 bench boss) to the Toronto Raptors.
One thing I’m particularly skeptical about is whether the Raptors are trying to emulate the Dallas Mavericks or not. Some rumors following the Casey hiring indicated that we would not be trading Andrea Bargnani, and would be looking to pair a center like Bismack Biyombo with him moving forward. I honestly hope that Raptors brass has finally realized that Bargnani is never going to be Dirk because he lacks the work ethic and motor of Nowitzki. We need to ship out Bargnani, and bring in young, hard-working players that we can develop in order to establish ourselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference down the road.
You can read more articles about the Raptors at Xixak’s blog http://raptorsrealm.blogspot.com/.