Dec 29, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

Could Raptors' Dwane Casey be NBA Coach of the Year? ANALYSIS "Courage is grace under pressure"

January 4, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors guard Landry Fields (2) drives against Sacramento Kings forward/center Chuck Hayes (42) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raps’ recent winning ways have created a new set of issues for Dwane Casey to juggle. The team is on the cusp of returning to relevance as a playoff contender, which was unthinkable 2 weeks ago. Going 8-2 since December 14 with a revamped roster has changed the dynamic in Raptor-land. For emphatic proof of how strange the Raptors’ season has been to date, we need only compare last night’s starting lineup against Sacramento with that which tipped off the first game against Indiana. One name remains the same: DeMar DeRozan.

Coach doesn’t have a Starting 5 & scrubs; he’s comfortable using everyone he’s got save Aaron Gray & Quincy Acy – a Playing 10, if you like. Even Landry Fields has re-entered the rotation & not done any harm (pushing oft-injured Linas Kleiza to the bench-warming status of Gray & Acy?). Coach is employing the hoary cliche “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to make out his starting lineup, for which I don’t blame him. However, the magic can’t last. Mikael Pietrus is not an NBA-quality starting Small Forward, nor Aaron Gray a Centre, as they will soon find out next time we lose 2 straight.

Coach will continue to give heavy minutes to DeMar & Jose, & everyone will roll in & out of games depending on match-ups & hot (or cold) hands. He’s found excellent roles for capable veterans like Amir Johnson & Alan Anderson, & has to get some credit for the development of Ed Davis. Furthermore, Coach seems to have gotten buy-in from Kyle Lowry (which is a tribute to both coach & player) that’s he’s the backup Point Guard until Jose Calderon plays himself out of the role or is traded.

That’s the present – what about the future? If January’s 9-6 record [c'mon: let's be optimistic] lifts the Raps into 10th place in the East, the question of win-now or develop-the-kids will be top of mind. Our injured Euros, Andrea Bargnani & Jonas Valanciunas, return in early February. How Coach will find minutes for them is anyone’s guess, but he must figure it out. Bargs will be spotlighted in anticipation of a trade, but whose minutes will he swallow? Assuming a trade is consummated, the player(s) coming back will need to be worked into the rotation, otherwise why bother? Valanciunas is the only Centre on the roster with upside, & must get on-the-job training. Likewise, Terrence Ross, another rookie with sky-high potential, won’t get better on the bench.

If Dwane Casey, who’s had several seasons’ worth of adversity crammed into this season’s first few months, can somehow maintain his sanity & manoeuvre this squad into a playoff berth, he’s got to be in the argument for Coach of the Year.

Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.


Tags: Dwane Casey Toronto Raptors

  • Michael Gaudreau

    Are you kidding, Casey is the worst coach I have ever had to watch.making the playoffs I doubt it. sure their winning some easy games now, But any time they go up aggainst teams ahead of them in the standings they lose. Coach of the year lol, what are you on, are you watching the same team Ive been watching. Seeing articles like this is maddening, and its a wonder people like you still have a job too. As far as the game aggainst the thunder, Other than the regulars mentioned to guard durant, I dont think any of them have
    the height, and foot speed to guard durant. I would let either ed davis or the
    feisty rookie acy take a shot at guarding him. It may sound crazy, but Acy needs
    somehow to prove himself maybe this could work. But I highly doubt casey would
    have enough foresite to see this. Watching him coach, has been the most
    frustrating thing Ive ever had to endure as a raptors fan. Sure weve beat some
    crappy teams lately, but when their is a chance he will always get outcoahed,
    and has no understanding of matchups. All one has to do is watch the fourth
    quarter, of the first ten games of the year, I cant beleive he hasn’t been fired
    and people still support him. some easy wins in the past 10 doesnt make him a
    good coach.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      The piece is full of “if’s”. Casey isn’t CoY yet, & neither is anyone else. My point is that he has dealt well with adversity, & been flexible when someone like Bargs hasn’t worked out. I agree that his match-ups are sometimes hard to figure, & he’s been outcoached on occasion, most recently against the Kings. But Casey is patient yet demanding, a solid combination. He hasn’t let the bench stagnate, a charge which has been laid against Thibodeau in Chicago.
      As to who will guard Durant: I think Pietrus will get the first chance, but Acy may get a shot.