I’ve never seen much criticism from Toronto media outlets on Dwane Casey. ‘The assistant coach of the championship Dallas Mavericks squad’ card has been far overplayed at this point, and it’s time to seriously start evaluating Casey.
MLSE has never brought in a premier head coach for the Toronto Raptors. I’m going to go out and say Lenny Wilkins is the best coach this team has ever seen. Other than Wilkins, there haven’t been any real high caliber coaches . Why? It’s not that the Raps don’t have the talent at this point. With this squad, a Jerry Sloan could land the Raps the 6th seed.
Would Sloan join the Raps? Probably not. But I’m willing to bet there are a handful of proven coaches that would. Take Stan Van Gundy for example. He’s out of work, experienced, and has a proven resume. I would say with certainty he would take a job from the Raps, and would make this team better.
So, why hasn’t Colangelo done something about it? Because he believes Casey is his man. The problem with Dwane Casey is that he’s still learning as well. He’s inexperienced, and with the Raps average coaching staff, Casey is the one with all the pressure on.
Now I’m not saying Casey is all bad. In fact, I would go on to say he’s one of the best assistant coaches in the league. However, at the moment, he’s not head coach material, and here’s why.
First, let’s look at what Casey does right. Defensively, Casey is solid. He has the right play calls, knows when to adjust defensively, and overall does a solid job on getting key stops.
Another thing that Casey deserves credit for is his ability to motivate his players. He has the team playing hard every night, and the players seem to respect him.
Here we go. I’m sure everyone has noticed this by now. Casey’s rotations just don’t make sense, virtually every game. Whether it’s his reluctance to play rookies down the stretch no matter how well they are playing, going small in order to let Alan Anderson chuck away (we’ll get into that later), or just subbing guys in/out at the wrong time, Casey’s rotations are awful. Because of this, at times defensively the Raps get hit hard despite his defensive sets. And playing Rudy and DeMar 40+ minutes a night isn’t going to make them effective come crunch time – they get tired.
Another problem is offensive sets. The ball is stagnant, and this often forces players into bad shots. Casey has got to open up the offense more, and let this team run. Looking at their wing rotation, there is some serious fast break potential. Casey doesn’t use this team properly, and his offensive play-calling is brutal. I don’t understand how multiple times this year the Raps have failed to inbound the ball down the stretch, resulting in a turnover. And when they do inbound the ball, the play-calling out of the time-out is usually questionable to say the least.
Also, offensively, why Alan Anderson has the green light to shoot whenever he wants while Kyle Lowry has been given a tight leash makes absolutely no sense.
Finally, Casey fails to adjust to the dynamic of the game has killed the Raps too many times this season. When other teams make a run, his time-outs are too late, he fails to make rotation changes that are needed, and is very insistent on keeping true to his schemes.
There’s a reason Casey’s been an assistant for the majority of his career. I don’t have a problem if the Raps believe in Casey and think he’s their man, but they better search long and hard for an assistant coach that specializes in offence. If Casey can learn how to run this team’s offense, and get them playing the hard-nosed defense he’s preached, then that’s another story, but at this point I would say the Raps biggest problem is their coaching personnel.
Photo credit to David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports.