The Toronto Raptors were already dealing with enough tough decisions this offseason, as the uncertainty surrounding Masai Ujiri, Kyle Lowry, and the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft was a lot to swallow for Nick Nurse. Losing Sergio Scariolo was another kick in the head, but Nurse didn’t leave the post vacant for long, as he brought Australian Trevor Gleeson into the fold.
Scariolo was named the head coach of Virtus Bologna in his native Italy, making him the fourth Raptors assistant in the last 12 months to leave the team. Even Jama Mahlalela decided to bolt after accepting an assistant job with the Golden State Warriors.
Gleeson has been a head coach in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) for the last eight seasons, with his stint as head coach of the Perth Wildcats over the last eight years drawing so much acclaim from the NBA ranks that Nurse decided to make Gleeson one of his right-hand men.
Gleeson brings with him the perfect blend of player development, consistency, experience, and ability to get results in the postseason. He has all the makings of a coach that can give the Raptors the shot in the arm that they so desperately need.
Trevor Gleeson brings experience and winning to the Toronto Raptors.
While Gleeson was briefly a coach in America with the Sioux Falls Skyforce before they moved to the G League, he has been running several teams down under for nearly two decades. Gleeson’s stint with the now-defunct Townsville Crocodiles earned him a Coach of the Year award, but his Perth accomplishments stand out.
Under Gleeson’s watch, Perth has become the Australian Warriors, winning an astounding five championships in an eight-year span. With a 171-98 record, Gleeson had made the NBL Grand Final six times and qualified for the postseason in each of his eight campaigns. You don’t achieve that without some solid coaching acumen.
In contrast to an NBA that is defined by the pick and roll, Gleeson has run the “flex” offense to perfection in Australia, all while implementing a fast, aggressive defense that mirrors what Toronto tries to do.
Adding some of these concepts should help not only improve the number of offensive arrows Nurse has in his quiver, but mixing that with his ability to draw up plays should once again make the Raptors’ offense feared on a league-wide level.
Gleeson might not have Mahlalela’s history as a developer of raw talent or Scariolo’s almost unprecedented level of experience, but the NBL is one of the best leagues in world basketball, and Gleeson has built the Wildcats into a dynasty in Western Australia. If he is able to bring that success to the NBA, the Raptors should be able to beef up their deflated staff.