3 Reasons the Raptors must keep Darko Rajakovic at the helm of their rebuild

In this article, we will examine three reasons why the Raptors' best approach is to hold firm with their new coach, regardless of his underwhelming debut
Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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There were unreasonably large shoes to fill following the Raptors firing of their championship-led coach Nick Nurse in the 2023 offseason.

Nick Nurse's technical style of coaching was a large part of the lead what led the Raptors to not only win in 2019, but to remain competitive the following season despite losing Kawhi Leonard. After several arduous months of searching, the Raptors decided to sign Darko Rajaković, a Serbian native who'd spent the last decade serving as the head coach for the Tulsa 66er's before moving to an assistant role with the Thunders and subsequently landing in a similar position with the Grizzlies.

Despite these high expectations, the Darko-led Raptors finished the season with a 25-57 record, the worst the team has finished in the past 10 years. In a season defined by monumental change, Darko's future as a head coach has been questioned, with many fans opting to abandon the Darko experiment in favour of more tenured, well-known options.

In this article, we will examine three reasons why the Raptors best approach is to hold firm with their new coach, regardless of the underwhelming debut that was the 2023-2024 season.

Reason One: His Offensive Philosophy

Not much was known about Rajaković's style of coaching when he was first hired except for the fact that the Raptors front office had praised his ability to be a flex option who could adapt regardless of the direction the team committed to. Eventually, the Raptors' new head coach opened up about his offensive philosophy, sharing that the team will be implementing a "0.5 offense".

To put it simply, this offense is built on a foundation of split second decisions, whenever a person has the ball, they must decide if they are going to drive, shoot, or pass within half of a second (hence the "0.5").

Though this never directly translated into consistent wins, the Raptors new-look offense was a resounding success. In Darko's first year as head coach, the Raptors had nearly identical offensive team stats as the year prior (despite losing their primary play-initiator), but with nearly 400 more assists.

Darko's insistence on moving the ball was a far cry from the iso-heavy offenses run by Nick Nurse and Dwane Casey before him, and since the Raptors are focused on developing their young players, an offense that promotes equity while still revolving around Scottie Barnes is the best environment for the younger generation of Raptors to flourish.