The Toronto Raptors have one of the absolute best head coaches in the sport in Nick Nurse, as the replacement for Dwane Casey led the franchise to their first-ever NBA championship in his debut season at the help while helping them take home 53 victories and the East’s No. 2 seed in his second campaign.
The Raptors were set up to fail when they had to play an entire season in Tampa, and they proceeded to do just that when they earned just the No. 11 seed in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs. Nurse was given a challenge that few if any coaches could really make work.
While the Raptors have a new burst of energy due to both their return to Toronto and the retooling of their roster, they have plenty of questions to answer with regards to what a typical gameday will look like, and it is up to Nurse to figure out how to address those issues.
Nurse should set these three goals for himself. If he manages to achieve these three targets in a somewhat timely manner, this should have a very positive impact on the Raptors’ win-loss record in what will be a pivotal season.
3 goals for Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse in 2021-22
3. Solve the rebounding issue
The Raptors are building a positionless team that features a handful of 6-8 and 6-9 players that can line up at several different positions, but Khem Birch is the closest thing that the team has to a traditional low-post big man. For a team that was pitiful on the glass last year, that could be a major Achilles heel.
Improving their performance on the glass last year will be a collaborative effort, as Birch will need to provide the same consistency he showed off last year, Precious Achiuwa must start to show signs of the star he can be, and forwards like Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher must pull their weight.
Nick Nurse must help Birch and the Raptors improve on the glass.
The rebounding will be better this year, as the addition of Achiuwa and the return of Birch is a much better offseason windfall than Aron Baynes and Alex Len last season. How much better? Well, that remains to be seen, as going up against bigs like Joel Embiid and Julius Randle will be a very tough task.
What made Nurse great during the title run was his ability to diagnose problems on the fly and make adjustments. While he didn’t have the roster to make a change last year, Masai Ujiri responded by bringing back a starting center, adding a high-level backup, and drafting a 6-7 No. 4 overall pick with an endless wingspan in Scottie Barnes.