Toronto Raptors Profile: Dwane Casey

By Craig Ballard
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

2nd year coach Dwane Casey is trying to turn around a franchise with a total of 11 playoff wins. Casey was a critical part of the Dallas Mavericks 2011 success where they won 16 games that playoffs alone. The Toronto Raptors improvements under him so far have been great, and I am anticipating even more development from the Raps with Casey at the helm.

This is Casey’s second go-around as an NBA head coach. In 2005 the Minnesota T-Wolves hired Casey to replace Kevin McHale, only to relieve him of his head coaching duties early in 2007. Many felt that he was let go way too early, and was not provided with a legit opportunity to succeed. At the time he was let go he had Minny at 20-20 and in the play-off mix (53-69 total for his 1+ seasons in Minny). Word was that Casey was harder on the players than Kevin Garnett wanted so KG sabotaged Casey’s 1st coaching job (allegedly).

Since then Casey has been in the mix for several head coaching jobs, but always had the team hire a different candidate (twice losing out to Vinny Del Negro, once for Chicago Bulls, and once for Los Angeles Clippers). He was also close to becoming the Atlanta Hawks guy a couple of years ago.

Casey has a ton of assistant coach experience. He has worked on the bench for the likes of George Karl, Nate McMillan, and of course lately Rick Carlisle. Casey also coached the Japan national team

Casey is a defensive-minded coach who was valued and praised very highly by Carlisle. Casey was the D-Coordinator for Carlisle for the Mavericks championship season. The most impressive thing about that Dallas team was their belief and commitment to a defense-first style of play. Casey gets the majority of the credit for that.

On your checklist for what you would want from a Raps coach surely “D-minded” would top the list. “Holds players accountable” would be right up there too. Casey gets check marks in both categories. Casey also gets a check in the “Respected by the NBA in-the-know coaches and staff”. Very well thought of throughout the Association. Fellow coaches, opposing coaches, and players all speak very highly of his smarts and work ethic.

Casey takes over a Raptors squad that gave up north of 105 points per game each of the 2 seasons prior to his hire. Significantly too many points being yielded in the T-Dot. In his 1st Raps season Casey got the team all the way down to 94 points given up per game (#9 in the NBA). That could further improve this season with the additions of defensively-skilled players like Jonas Valanciunas, Landry Fields, Kyle Lowry, and Terrence Ross.

What I like about Casey’s skills is his D strengths are more “schemes” rather than relying on individual players to go out and play lock-down D. Having a player with Andrea Bargnani‘s skill-set is different to work with than your traditional PF/C, but we were even seeing improved defense from Bargnani last season (before his season-ending calf issue). Casey has experience putting together D schemes, so perhaps your prayers about having Bargs improving on defense and rebounding could be answered (or at least D-schemes implemented to help in the low-post/at the rim).

A main cause of frustration for Raps faithful the past few seasons (prior to Casey) is the fact that the team/players/coaches/organization seemingly were making the same mistakes day-in, day-out. We all wondered openly about the accountability (where the heck was it?!?!)

That changed as soon as the Raptors held their press conference to make his hiring official. Casey has no interest in what the name on the back of your jersey says, where/when you were drafted, what your salary structure is etc. He will hold the entire roster to the same high level of accountability. I think the Raps had been craving the type of approach Casey has. Guys like DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Ross, and Bargnani will all benefit from what Casey brings to the table.

I would have to mention that Casey’s past is not without significant scandal. 1989 when Casey was an assistant at his Alma mater University of Kentucky he was caught sending $1,000 to a recruit which is, of course, against NCAA rules. Kentucky was already in hot water with NCAA during this time and that indiscretion threatened to put the program in the “Death Penalty” which would have shut down UK basketball for up to 2 years. The scandal was the last straw for UK’s President, and he made the head coach and Athletic Director resign.

Casey put himself on the shortlist to become the next guy teams want to hire with his work in Dallas. Check out these quotes from ex-Mavs around the time the rumors were circulating that the Raps may make Casey their next head coach…

“He’d be a good guy”…“He’d sure be right for the job up there”. Those are from The Matrix Shawn Marion. Matrix would have an idea of what type of coach could excel here in Canada. More from Marion – “He’s got a great defense going, he puts us in good positions to do what we do out there. If they want some defense, go get him”. Great to hear Shawn!

How about these comments from JJ Barea (and Peja Stojakovic) regarding Casey “He is intense, very intense”… “Every play he’s screaming. He brings a lot of energy”…”You better do things right. If not, he’s going to be talking to you”

From Stojakovic – “He just knows how to get you ready, and if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, you’re going to hear it about it.” Ahhhh, accountability. How we have longed for that in Raptors Land!

Go Raptors Go!

Check here for all of my articles on the Raptors. …Follow me on twitter @Raptors_Rap

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