The last eight months of Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse have been an unmitigated success. He had a child, guided the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Championship and appeared on stage with the Arkells at a sold-out concert in Toronto, to list the brightest highlights.
The same can’t be said of his first eight coach’s challenges.
Nurse is now 0-for-6 on rebuking officials’ calls this season, going as far as joking earlier in the year that “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing there. Zero.”
Before Toronto took on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday evening, Donnovan Bennett and Faizal Khamisa examined how and why Nurse has done so badly thus far with the latest NBA coach’s tool on NBA Chatroom.
“I’m actually now intrigued with the sub-plot of will he ever win an NBA challenge,” Khamisa jokingly mused during Wednesday’s episode.
“I have beef with the refs because they’re not giving Pascal Siakam the star calls that [the Raptors] deserve, but I also have beef with Nick Nurse because everything he challenged, I’m like, ‘you’re not winning this,’” Bennett replied, searching for a way to explain Nurse’s shortcomings. “Referees are only going to change things when they’re looking at their own mistakes if they’re what? Clear and obvious. Right? Clear and obvious fouls the way we have in [soccer] VAR. Well, NBA VAR is telling Nick Nurse that none of that was clear and obvious.”
There are specific conditions under which a coach may attempt to challenge a referee’s decision: foul calls, basket interference, goaltending calls and out-of-bounds calls.
In order for a coach to make a challenge, they must use a timeout — offering a measure of risk, that they may waste a timeout, in attempting the challenge.
If the challenge is successful, however, the team gets its timeout back and there’s a mid-court jump ball; unsuccessful challenges result in play resuming as though nothing had happened.
According to the NBA, referees are correct on their calls about 97 per cent of the time in any given game, meaning the odds of a successful coach’s challenge are never in the bench boss’s favour.
“I honestly believe that we should go to the model of let him phone a friend,” Bennett suggested as a solution for Nurse, half-jokingly. “Ask someone, ‘Should I challenge this?’ Ask the audience, just put it up on the big screen, ‘Should he challenge this?’ … We’re trying to make the game interactive, Adam Silver could sell that time [on the big screen], I’m telling you, it’s a thing.”
You can check out Wednesday’s episode of NBA Chatroom in full in the video player below, and can catch it live every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET.