To the surprise of many, Dwane Casey was fired by the Toronto Raptors after seven years as their head coach. It was the first time in a long time that a coach had brought a team to a number one seed in a conference and been fired after that season.
The Toronto front office entrusted Casey after years of getting bounced out of the playoffs in the first round, expecting to finally make a Finals push. They gave Cleveland a run in the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago but have fallen victim to LeBron and the Cavaliers for a third straight season. Even after the winning culture, he was able to establish, Toronto was ready to take the next step with Casey being unable to get Toronto over the edge.
For the Detroit Pistons, would bringing in Casey instill success for an organization with no true direction?
Their organization seems to feel he could be one of the best fits on the open market as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the Pistons are eyeing Casey to lead their coaching staff next season.
How would the coaching style and player development that Casey brings fit within Detroit?
Dwane Casey winning the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year award was reflective of the Raptors improvement with efficiency on both ends of the floor. Toronto was the only team in the NBA to rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency showing that the dramatic change to this years offense was successful. The playing style emphasized a faster pace, more passing and a greater reliance on 3-point shooting. They improved their three-point attempts from 24.3 in 16’17 to 33 attempts per game in 17-18 showing the emphasis on shooting.
Something the Pistons organization can look to is the development of talent that Casey brought during his tenure up north. The way both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were able to both take their games to MVP levels at different times over the past couple of seasons can’t go overlooked, but a player that made a drastic improvement is Jonas Valanciunas.
The player that Valanciunas became in 2017-18 is a testament to the style of play change as a whole, and Casey was able to bring the best of out of him with it. Valanciunas was entrusted with running more dribble hand-off plays in order to loosen up the motion of the offense. After taking just four threes in the five seasons prior, Valanciunas has attempted 46 this season, knocking them down at a 45.7%.
If Casey were able to do this to Blake Griffin, it can really revamp the type of player Blake Griffin wants to ultimately be. For a player that was only averaging 1.9 three-point attempts per game in 16-17 to now averaging 5.7, it shows that Griffin wants to make it one of his many go to shots. Casey working with Griffin, a guy who has much more arrayed skillset, can bring Griffin back to that 2014 Blake people all remember.
Overall, the way Casey was able to show development in multiple young and veteran players this season and in past, it would mold perfectly for what Detroit is trying to do.
There is still a red flag
With all of the success that Casey brought to Toronto, there is still the black cloud of unsuccessful playoff appearances still hovering over him. With an overall playoff winning percentage of 41%, Detroit knows they would be bringing in a guy who has lost multiple playoff coaching matchups. Casey looked lost at times in this past series vs. Cleveland. He mentioned in his postgame press conference in Game 1 that his team had “the yips” basically speaking on the fact that defeat was probably only just a few games away, in which it was in three more games.
For Detroit, they have a decision on what type of risk they want to take. They know that Casey has the ability to turn this franchise into a winning culture again. He did it in Toronto where winning was virtually an abnormality, and with the support, could do that in Detroit. He has young talent and All-Star players to work with, which is what made him so great in Toronto. We saw what he did with players like Valanciunas and even Fred Van Vleet increasing his ppg from 2.6 to 8.3 and being a finalist for Most Improved Player of the Year. The young guards that he’d mold in Detroit could see the same type of change to their game if Detroit were to make this hire.
Casey brought a new swagger to Toronto and it would fit well with a franchise like Detroit who is not far removed from their success in the early 2000’s. They just need the right man to lead the charge,