Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey agrees with president Masai Ujiri’s comments about the club needing a “culture reset” and says he’s got a clear vision of changes he wants to implement.
“It’s great to have a culture reset,” said Casey, who joined The Jeff Blair Show Wednesday morning on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “You go in, you evaluate every phase of your organization — good, bad, indifferent — and ask, ‘Where can we get better?’ That’s what we need to do.”
Casey, 60, says he’s been involved with such introspection during his time as an assistant coach with both the Dallas Mavericks and Seattle SuperSonics.
“I think we need it,” he said. “We’re in this to get better, because if you stay the same and don’t improve or don’t stay up on what’s going on in the league, you get left behind.”
The Raptors were eliminated this month by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a four-game sweep during the second round of the post-season. Toronto’s now made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, but only advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals once.
“After that performance we need a culture reset here,” Ujiri said on May 9, two days after the Raptors were eliminated. “We need to figure it out. Yeah, there’s been some success, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to win a championship here. To me [just] making the playoffs is nothing. That’s back in the day. Now we have to figure out how we can win in the playoffs.”
Casey points out there was some good to come from Toronto’s season. For example, the club ranked sixth in the NBA in offensive efficiency (109.8) and eighth in defensive efficiency (104.9). After the all-star break, and the acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, the Raptors improved in the defensive metric, placing behind only the Warriors, Spurs and Bulls.
Still, what worked in the regular season hasn’t translated to the playoffs, and one way Casey plans to address that is to make Toronto a more dangerous three-point threat.
“We’ve got to get where that’s part of our playing personality, a huge part of our identity,” said Casey. “Quality threes. … You and I can go out and shoot them, but we want to make them.”
Casey met with point guard Cory Joseph on Tuesday to discuss that and says threes will be a key point of emphasis during summer workouts and in training camp. The Raptors averaged 24.3 three-point shots per game in 2016-17; Casey wants that number up to the 30-32 range.
“It’s a change for those players, but it can be done. It has been done,” said Casey. “[Raptors free-agent point guard] Kyle Lowry is a great example. When he first came in the league you wouldn’t have said he’s a good three-point shooter and now he’s one of the best in the league.”