Dwane Casey is the closest thing the Raptors organization has to a lightning rod. His offensive stylings are a tad simplistic, his defensive schemes sometimes at the mercy of the personnel he has on hand. At season’s end, Casey was unsurprisingly pegged as the member of the Raptors core that might need to exit the picture in order for the Raptors to reach greater heights.
Casey has, however, been a steadying force for the Raptors’ franchise. On a macro level, he has helped players understand and excel in defined roles, he’s fostered growth from a prospect-heavy end of the bench, and has help turn Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan into a pair of unlikely All Stars but tailoring Toronto’s system to their greatest strengths.
Is he on the level of the league’s most lauded visionaries? Probably not. The league is flush with competent to good coaching, though. Simply being considered in the top third of the group is an accomplishment, however modest.
Casey received such recognition in the 2016-17 Coach of the Year voting, finishing ninth with a second and two third place votes.
2016-17 NBA Coach of the Year Award voting results pic.twitter.com/yZFORA2lMl— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) June 27, 2017
Toronto’s regular season was one of many turns. Jared Sullinger’s prolonged season-opening absence, Patrick Patterson’s injury, a disastrous January slide and Lowry’s late-season wrist surgery all threatened to snap the Raptors’ streak of 50-win seasons at one. Players like Lowry, DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker certainly played an enormous role as the team racked up 51 wins, but so did Casey. He tinkered constantly with lineup combinations, placed trust in green rookies and embraced a plodding, defensive style of play with Lowry missing down the stretch.
Casey has his foibles. Toronto’s playoff’s struggles are probably the cause of both of some rigidity on Casey’s part and the limitations of his best players. All told though, Casey’s positive attributes outweigh the negative ones.
Six seasons into his Raptors tenure, Casey is far more than just a pounder of the rock.