Raptors stay the course, hire Nick Nurse as head coach

Nick Nurse

Head coach Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors listens to assistant coach Nick Nurse against the Charlotte Hornets during NBA game action at Air Canada Centre on February 15, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Raptors have filled their head coaching vacancy and it might give us the best insight so far into the team’s direction this offseason. After the sound thumping Toronto took in a sweep against the Cleveland Cavaliers they had to seriously consider the franchise’s direction. That disappointing series forced team president Masai Ujiri’s hand in firing Dwane Casey, unquestionably the best coach in Raptors history. But, do you really want to run away from the team’s regular season success?

That’s where new head coach Nick Nurse comes in. He’s spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors under Casey and is respected around the league for his offensive philosophy. That is the key to this hiring, he was the architect for Toronto’s evolution on the offensive end of the floor and propelled the team to rival the Warriors and Rockets in terms of scoring output and efficiency.

Do you really want to blow up one of the most successful teams in the NBA over the last 5 years? Is it wise to run away from by far the best era in franchise history? If you’ve suffered with the Raptors all these years you’d be crazy to think reshaping this team wouldn’t be an arduous task. Yes, Casey had to go after losing 8 straight playoff games to LeBron James but there are many signs that this team still has upside and is a force in the East.

Ujiri’ is going to be aggressive this offseason if there is an opportunity to improve the team and he’s earned the benefit of the doubt but no one should underestimate the potential for internal growth. VanVleet should be back and both him and Delon Wright will only improve with more minutes. Their production on the ‘bench mob’ is not a flash in the pan. In the frontcourt, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl had great regular seasons but might have experienced some stage fright in the playoffs. That’s natural for young players and part of the reason Toronto shouldn’t be taken for granted.

The hiring of Nick Nurse was the best and most reasonable response to a crushing playoff defeat at the end of the franchise’s best season. Maybe the players needed a new voice, perhaps Casey resisted Nurse’s offensive schemes too much but after years of dwelling in the NBA basement why on earth would you throw the baby out with the bathwater and start from scratch? The Raptors need to stay the course and Nurse is the perfect fit. Heck, no one even knows if LeBron will be playing in the east next season.

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