4 Raptors who failed to meet expectations amidst dismal season

Darko Rajaković, Toronto Raptors
Darko Rajaković, Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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No. 1: Darko Rajakovic

The final entrant on our list is not a player but rather the first-year head coach of the Toronto Raptors, Darko Rajakovic. The Raptors chose to fire Nick Nurse last offseason, who took over with the Philadlephia 76ers and led them to the playoffs despite the lengthy absence of Joel Embiid. The Raptors were not able to weather their injuries and finished well behind the 76ers in the standings; that's not a fair comparison, but it speaks to how Nurse left a bad situation and joined a much better one.

Nurse was fired after a 41-41 season, and Rajakovic stepped in and was overseeing a similar roster (with Dennis Schroder replacing Fred VanVleet, but with Scottie Barnes a year older) but was playing well behind a .500 pace early in the season before the team was broken up. On December 30th, when the OG Anunoby trade was executed, the Raptors were 12-20.

Perhaps what happened after that was not his fault, with the team unable to muster a whisper of hope after adding Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett and then completely dissolving down the stretch. Rajakovic wasn't able to get the piecemeal rotations available to him to win games; it's possible no coach would have been able to.

Yet what happened over those first 30 or so games rest at least partially on his shoulders. Perhaps it's not fair to expect a first-year coach to excel right out of the gates, but when he was the pick to replace Nurse it was expected that he would get this group back to the playoffs. He fell well short of that mark, and then when handed lemons he simply handed back lemon juice instead of lemonade.

Rajakovic has time to prove himself, but in year one he fell short of expectations, as did the entire Toronto Raptors organization.

5 Toronto Raptors who definitely won't be back next season. 5 Toronto Raptors who definitely won't be back next season. dark. Next