By now, Toronto Raptors fans are familiar with Nick Nurse’s offensive game.
He was the brains behind behind much of the offensive strength that carried the club to its best regular season ever, with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry leading the way. Now, as the newly-appointed head coach, he’s shifting part of his focus to the weakness that resulted in an earlier-than-expected post-season exit, starting with the stars.
He addressed those upcoming changes during a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview on Friday, highlighting “consistency” as the first order of business.
“The guys that are All-Stars and superstars, etc., need to thrive. We’ve had some ups and downs. Kyle [Lowry] had a pretty good playoff run last year. DeMar [DeRozan] had some great moments, but again some not so great moments,” Nurse said. “I think we’ve got to use the word ‘consistency’ a little bit. We don’t need them to be great, great, great, great, but when they’re not so great, we need them to be average. When they’re not having a good game, they still need to be average instead of way down below their average numbers and average productivity.”
Now, here’s the part Raptors fans will likely be most interested in: Defence — particularly when it come to DeRozan. The shooting guard’s point production can offset his weakness on the other side of ball during the regular season, but not in the playoffs when his limited defending ability is exposed against stiffer competition.
“I’m more concerned, on DeMar — and I’ve already talked to him about this — is that he becomes a little bit more focused, defensively,” Nurse said, adding that the shooting guard’s three-pointers should also see some improvement this off-season. “Some of the experimentation we were talking about, maybe instead of hiding him in a regular season game on a poor offensive player in December, maybe we’re gonna throw him on an All-Star.”
Perhaps in this case, a bit of regular season pain could lead to post-season gains.
“Maybe it costs us a little bit, but maybe he learns a thing or two that will help him down the line,” Nurse said. “We need to challenge him on that end of the floor. We need to hold him a little bit more accountable. We’re gonna do that, and he’s on board with that.”