The Toronto Raptors decided to hire Darko Rajakovic as the team’s next head coach, making him the tenth person in the history of the NBA to hold this very illustrious position. The Raptors are expecting him to be the catalyst for the next decade of success.
The Raptors haven’t necessarily been the hallmark of consistency during their time in the NBA, as the pre-Dwane Casey era saw multiple promising coaches chewed up and spat out. Casey is still the only coach in Raptors history to hold the position for more than five seasons.
Despite all of the turnover during the Raptors’ nearly three-decade run in the NBA, they have managed to bring in some noteworthy names and unearth some coaching gems. Nick Nurse, who was recently fired, helped them reach a peak that some doubted a Canadian franchise would ever summit.
However, the Raptors also need to realize they have some severe flubs in their history that still stand out for all the wrong reasons. In a very Newtonian twist, every Raptors standout who took the team to new heights was met with an equally poor representative who piled up the losses.
Top 3 best and worst Toronto Raptors coaches.
No. 3 worst: Brendan Malone
After nearly a decade as Chuck Daly’s top assistant with the Detroit Pistons, the creator of the “Jordan Rules” was hired by former player and expansion Raptors architect Isiah Thomas to serve as the first coach in franchise history. Malone went 21-61, which isn’t too uncommon for a brand-new team trying to find their footing.
Malone’s short tenure likely contributed to him never holding a non-interim head coaching job in the NBA ever again. At least Malone has a strong legacy in the pros. He served as an assistant until 2016, where he coached names like LeBron James and Dwight Howard. His son, Mike Malone, won a title in charge of the Denver Nuggets.
Lenny Wilkens was solid for the Toronto Raptors.
No. 3 best: Lenny Wilkens
Wilkens’ lengthy coaching career was built up away from Toronto, but he became the first Raptors coach to build a sustained winner in Canada. Wilkens helped the Raptors win the first playoff games in franchise history and put up a respectable 8-9 postseason record.
Wilkens went 89-75 in his first two seasons with the Raptors before the bottom fell out in 2002-03, and he left to join the Knicks. Wilkens is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, and the Raptors were much worse off when the partnership ended after just three seasons.