Darko Rajakovic and the Toronto Raptors looked like a juggernaut against Monty Williams and the lowly Detroit Pistons, as the Raptors set a new team record for assists in a game with 44 in a 142-113 victory that somehow was not as close as the scoreline would indicate.
This win had to feel good for Rajakovic, as the protege took down the master. Rajakovic was an assistant under Williams during his time with the Phoenix Suns. While Rajakovic was eventually the hire by Toronto, the Raptors were reportedly making a very serious run at bringing Williams in.
Williams took a ridiculous contract offer from the Pistons, making him the highest-paid coach in the history of the NBA. While this may have been a blow to Raptors fans who wanted to hire him, the results early this season make it seem like Rajakovic was the superior choice.
While Rajakovic has not been perfect in his debut season, and Williams is clearly working with a worse roster than what his former assistant has been handed in Toronto, taking Darko away from the Memphis Grizzlies has looked to be a much more prudent and successful move.
Toronto Raptors look smart for not hiring Monty Williams.
While Detroit’s roster is terrible, it should not be this hard to win games with a very impressive No. 1 pick in Cade Cunningham and two more Top 5 picks in Jaden Ivey and Ausar Thompson. The Pistons are flailing on both ends, as they are 24th in scoring and 22nd in points allowed.
Rajakovic’s offense and his plan for Scottie Barnes were the two main reasons Toronto eventually decided to hire him, and Darko showed precisely why Masai Ujiri made the right choice with him. Barnes is having a borderline All-Star season, and the offense around him is finally starting to catch up.
Rajakovic has also earned a gold star for his communication skills and ability to foster a very positive environment. Williams, on the other hand, seems to be hinting that there’s no way he can win due to bad “habits” the team picked up under Dwane Casey. Imagine Williams with this Toronto team.
Rajakovic is by no means perfect, as he had some situational blunders late in a loss to the Celtics, but he appears to have the team playing hard and pulling off some impressive victories. Williams has the pedigree and name recognition, but not the results so far.