May 1, 2015

The case against Dwane Casey

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

It has been nearly a week since the Toronto Raptors were swept out of the playoffs by the underdog Washington Wizards. That’s enough time for post-season press conferences, locker cleanouts and post-mortems on the year that has passed. It’s now time to move on and the Raptors should be doing that without Dwane Casey.

Of course, general manager Masai Ujiri won’t be firing his coach any time soon, according to his season-ending talk. But that’s simply the wrong choice.

Casey was one of the principal reasons why this team floundered so badly not just in the playoffs, but since the all-star break.

On offence, the ball didn’t move enough and when plays were drawn up – which seemed pretty rare – they were mostly ineffective or more simple isos.

On defence, the Raptors didn’t have a team presence or a system that worked at all – which is kind of damning when you remember that Casey is considered a defensive specialist.

Even the rotation wasn’t consistent, with Casey trying to move players in and out of the lineup and generally yanking around minutes for the guys on the bench.

Even player development wasn’t moving along at a good enough pace. Was there any marked improvement from former top-five pick Jonas Valanciunas this year? Did Terrence Ross actually get worse this season?

Perhaps what’s worst about this all is that Casey himself saw the flaws and failed to address them.

Even when the Raptors were winning to start the season and were first in the Eastern Conference, the coach was quick to point out what the team was doing wrong and how the hot start wouldn’t be sustainable.

At the end of the season, the team was still doing the same things wrong while piling up the losses.

If a coach can see a flaw in his team, it’s his job to address it.

The ability to adapt both in-game and over the course of a season are prerequisites for coaches in all sports and it seems to be something that Casey lacks.

For God sakes, Casey was just soundly outcoached by Randy Wittman, who is largely recognized as one of the league’s worst bench bosses – where does that leave Casey?

The main reason why Ujiri and the Raptors chose to keep Casey is that he’s likely a just a bullet in the chamber. If something goes wrong at the start of next season, it’ll be an easy trigger to pull.

But that’s not the right way to go about building a team with dreams of contending for more than the Atlantic Division title.

Bringing in a new coach for training camp would be the right move, but this seems more about politics than basketball.

With the Eastern Conference likely to get better around them next season, the Raptors need to look long and hard about how it approaches next season. And the first step should be with a new coach.

Leave a Reply