While Darko Rajakovic, who spent the last few seasons as one of the top assistants on the Memphis Grizzlies, may not be a ubiquitous name that every NBA fan had on the tip of their tongues, the Toronto Raptors have largely been praised for their decision to hire him.
With the Raptors in need of someone who can simultaneously bring offensive experience and a history of strong player development to the table, Rajakovic appears to be the best man for the job. With decades of experience, Rajakovic has more than paid his dues.
While some balked at the Rajakovic hire, as Toronto passed over other names with past head coaching experience in the NBA to acquire him, one NBA insider thinks that a semi-rebuilding team like Toronto could benefit from the Serbian soothsayer’s wise basketball words.
NBA insider Mark Medina praised the Raptors’ decision to hire Rajakovic, calling him a “rising star” and praising his knowledge of the international game. Medina also believes that Rajakovic is in an excellent situation to start his career, as he won’t have too many high expectations on a team no one expects to contend.
NBA insider praises Toronto Raptors hiring Darko Rajakovic.
Much like Canada head coach and current Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez (who was in the running for this vacancy before Darko beat him out), Rajakovic was going to be hired by some team with a savvy front office. Even in a small market with many young players, Memphis contended regularly thanks partly to his coaching.
Rajakovic will have his hands full during his first season. Not only will he need to empower Scottie Barnes to make him one of the star players on this team, but he needs to reconcile that with the need to lean on names like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
If the Raptors end up gelling with this new core and making a run, Rajakovic will have developed a reputation as a master administrator who got this team back in the saddle. If they start to lean towards a rebuild, his history working with young players who need development could start to shine.
Rajakovic is coming to town needed to change the culture and make the offense much better. This is a difficult task, but Rajakivic’s resume suggests he could do it.