Toronto Raptors: Nick Nurse’s best changes

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TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 10: Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) evades the double team of New York Knicks guard Damyean Dotson (21) and New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26). Toronto Raptors vs New York Knicks in 2nd half action of NBA regular season play at Scobiabank Arena in Toronto. Raptors won 128-112 and are 12-1 on the season. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Masai Ujiri, the Toronto Raptors top executive, decided his team needed a change at head coach after another playoff bellyflop. Nick Nurse was Masai’s choice. How is the new man doing?

As the 2018-19 NBA season tipped off, Nick Nurse’s biggest challenge was to establish himself with his players as a credible head coach.  The leap from assistant to the top job is a difficult one, and is more so in his case.  A team in hopeless condition may be inclined to give a rookie coach several years to grow into the role.  The Raptors are coming off a 59-win season, and Nurse’s fired predecessor was Coach of the Year.

Nurse’s best player, Kawhi Leonard, is of a calibre Dwane Casey never had. Leonard’s only professional coach before arriving in Toronto was Gregg Popovich, on the short list of the top bench bosses of all time. And now…this unknown rookie is in charge.

Anything less than a strong start was likely to be greeted with grumbling, something which is already happening with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nick’s Raptors have won 12 of 13 games, which tends to render complainers speechless. What’s more, the tweaks our new coach has installed all seem to be working. Let’s take a walk through the most prominent changes.

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