“Defensively I’m gonna be a hands on control freak… offensively I’m gonna trust and give them freedom… the players will know how important the defense is… I wanna not only make us a tougher defensive team but I want defense to be fun… when you put your stamp and put your imprint on the game defensively… that’s fun.”
As was expected, Dwane Casey has vowed to make defense a priority in Toronto as he helps this young Raptors team grow and develop.
Who is Dwane Casey?
In case you were unaware, Dwane Casey was the defensive coordinator for this year’s NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and played an important role in Dallas’ successes on that side of the ball—especially as they shut down Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James in this year’s playoffs.
Yes, he had more experienced and better defensive players to work with in Dallas than he does here with this young Raptors team. However, if his defense-first mentality rubs off on this athletic bunch of young players the Raptors will be much improved on that side of the ball over the next couple of seasons.
As touched on by Casey in the press conference, the Raptors players have the tools and ability to be solid defenders and with Casey’s help, they should be able to capitalize on their tools and abilities and really show some big improvements on defense.
What was that about offense?
In the press conference, Casey mentioned that he will be less involved on the offensive side of the ball than he plans to be on defense.
He discussed his intent to have a more free-flowing playoff style offense. This would involve using fewer set plays in favour of playing a more natural style of basketball in which he was adamant on getting his players to “trust the pass.”
Final Thoughts on Dwane Casey’s Press conference
Speaking only on the evidence from today’s press conference, Dwane Casey strikes me as a genuine coach who sees the value of defense, hard work and trust.
On several occasions during the conference he mentioned that he was drawn to this team because of its young core and he seems eager to begin working with the players and overseeing their growth and development.
I like what I have seen so far—even if it was only a small sample—and I look forward to seeing how Dwane Casey will help this young Raptors team.
How long before we see this new defensive attitude pay off?
I think we will see a difference immediately. The Raptors new defensive focus should be apparent at the beginning of the next season, it will not be a huge difference that early on but it will certainly be an improvement.
By the end of the season, we should see the Raptors improve on their overall team defense, which was ranked 26th overall this past season. I would say I expect them to end up somewhere around 15th and 19th in that category next season thanks to both Casey’s coaching, and the new players they will add via this year’s draft and free agency/offseason trading, if they can play their cards right.
What about the Playoffs next season?
This will be a very popular question throughout the remainder of the offseason and as we draw closer to the dawn of the next season.
So what do I think? I think that with the addition of Dwane Casey and his defensive approach, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft and a new center via free agency or trade the playoffs will certainly be in reach for the Raptors next year.
Nevertheless, it is still too early to say whether I think it will be a reality, but I will have more on that following the draft and free agency and as next season draws closer.