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Old 06-21-2011, 03:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default CHISHOLM: Casey can be part of improving defensively


In many ways Casey elicits memories of former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, Toronto's last coach during a rebuilding phase. Like Mitchell, Casey is known as a tough-but-fair type that demands accountability in the locker room, and he won't ever be criticized for letting people off the hook defensively (*cough* Bargnani *cough*).

Unlike Mitchell, however, his long history as an assistant coach has given him a much better grasp of X's and O's and, one hopes, a more collaborative approach to working with others. It was his defensive acumen, though, that got him the job in Toronto, and some perspective should be added to the big picture before anyone calls this hiring a slam dunk in that regard.

Two years ago, when Casey was first brought on in Dallas, the team was only 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Last year, after the club brought in Shawn Marion and, eventually, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, the team finished the year 12th in defensive efficiency. This season, after acquiring Tyson Chandler, they cracked the top-ten and finished 7th overall. Notice a trend here?

Casey could be the most creative defensive mind the NBA has ever seen for all we know, but without a roster of players that are willing and able to commit to and execute his system, all of Casey's strategic acumen will go to waste. If the Raptors continue to employ Jose Calderon as their first line of defence, Andrea Bargnani as their last line of defence and DeMar DeRozan on the best opposing wings, this team is going to lose. They are going to lose because they are going to get feasted on just like they have for the last two years under Jay Triano. That's why, while this hiring is nice and fine, it's only one small step towards correcting the real problems for the Raptors out on the court.

If Colangelo acts as though this hiring alone will be enough to meaningfully improve Toronto's defence, then they'll fail. By hiring Casey, he's laid down the expectation that improving the team's defence is priority number one, and now it's on him to give Casey what he needs to actually improve it. It's all well and good to hire a talented architect to re-build your house, but if you aren't going to provide them with the tools, materials and personnel that they'd need to build it, what's the point?

Hiring Casey is a perfectly respectable step in Toronto's rebuilding process, but it is going to take several subsequent steps with regards to re-imagining parts of this roster for it to matter. You're telling the fans you're serious about winning by hiring Casey? Fine. Now go show Casey you're serious by giving him some pieces that he can actually work with.
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