Nick Nurse went 58-24 and won a championship with the Toronto Raptors in his first season as an NBA head coach after replacing reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey one summer ago.
Having a superstar like Kawhi Leonard to lean on was an integral factor in his success as a rookie bench boss, but now that the board man is getting paid by the Los Angeles Clippers, how much harder will Nurse’s job be in 2019-20?
“I don’t know yet,” Nurse answered during an appearance on Prime Time Sports Wednesday.
So how much will his coaching strategy change?
Leonard was the clear-cut best player on the Raptors yet it wasn’t a one-man show. In fact, the team went 17-5 in games Leonard missed (keep in mind 13 of those wins were against non-playoff teams) and the majority of the roster has remained intact – the Raptors also lost forward Danny Green, who signed with the Lakers.
“Listen, I approach it from this standpoint: we got some guys that will need to expand roles that they wouldn’t have had to, but I think we got guys that are capable of that,” Nurse explained. “I preach ball movement. I think the assisted basket is still our goal. It’s really the only thing that stands up in the playoffs. I think aggressive defence, I think playing a lot of people throughout the regular season, changing defences, being really good late game. None of that stuff changes for me. I think that’s what we want our team to be and we go from there.
“Now, listen, you can say [Leonard] made a lot of big buckets and he was clutch in the late game and all that kind of stuff but we’re gonna have to develop that from somewhere else.”
Nurse was recently introduced as Canada’s men’s senior national team head coach, so before he buckles down and focuses on strategies for the 2019-20 NBA season the 51-year-old will be focused on his other coaching duties.
The Iowa native is set to make his Team Canada coaching debut in August during a two-game exhibition series against Nigeria, with one game being played in Toronto and the other held in Winnipeg.