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Did the Raptors overachieve or disappoint under Dwane Casey?

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On Wednesday, Dwane Casey’s peers voted him Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year. On Friday, he found himself unemployed after the Toronto Raptors fired him as head coach following seven seasons that saw them reach unprecedented heights during the regular season but fail to translate those into deep playoff runs.

That dichotomy presents the fundamental question for the Raptors in deciding Casey’s fate: Did they overachieve in the regular season or underachieve in the playoffs? Which one of those is true will eventually determine whether this move made sense.nfl jerseys cheap china

I’d imagine Toronto president Masai Ujiri has a more positive view of his team’s roster than RPM, and understandably so. As I noted in explaining why the projection missed the mark by so much, RPM pegged the Raptors’ bench as a weakness because of the departure of veteran anchor Patrick Patterson. Instead, a group of young players found by the front office — including undrafted Fred VanVleet and late first-round picks Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright — emerged as the NBA’s best second unit.

Much of the credit for the backups’ analytically sound shot chart has gone to assistant coach Nick Nurse, who arrived in Toronto after two seasons as head coach of the G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Nurse was in charge as the Vipers began their transition into the country’s most aggressive 3-point shooting pro team, one that was eventually mirrored by their parent club: the Houston Rockets.148

As the Raptors’ designated offensive coordinator, Nurse is credited with designing pickup games and controlled scrimmages where Toronto players were awarded four points for corner 3s and zero or minus-one points for 2-point jumpers outside the paint.

Those habits carried over to the regular season. Toronto went from taking 2s outside the paint at the league’s 12th-highest rate in 2016-17 to 26th this season, increasing the team’s rates of both 3s and shots in the restricted area. Per Second Spectrum’s quantified shot quality (qSQ) measure,official nfl jerseys cheap the Raptors improved from the league’s seventh-worst set of shot attempts to eighth-best.

Perhaps the most important improvement came in the playoffs. Over the previous four years, Toronto’s offense had consistently performed worse than league average when adjusted for the regular-season defensive rating of the Raptors’ opponents. Last season, Toronto’s offense was 5.4 points per 100 possessions worse than average based on this measure. This year, even after being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raptors rated 2.4 points per 100 possessions better than average on offense.

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