3 reasons Ime Udoka is the man to fix Raptors – Fitnessnacks & Sports

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    With Ime Udoka seeming like an early favorite to become the next head coach of the Toronto Raptors, there’s obviously going to be multiple layers to the discussion about whether or not he’s the right man for the job.

    On the one hand, the only reason Udoka is available right now is because of his own transgressions, making the mistakes of a man who lacks self-discipline and self-control. That’s no reason to completely discount his potential to be the teacher of young and impressionable teams. After all, the ability to triumph amid adversity is a prized trait, especially in a sport that will lead to high peaks and low valleys as players go through the emotional roller coaster of an 82-game season.

    Nonetheless, history can’t be erased. Until Udoka demonstrates more maturity as a man and person, then he won’t get past the hurdle that he placed in front of his career.

    That said, there are plenty of things to like about Udoka as the next head coach of the Raptors. So much so that they might be perfect for each other.

    Defensive focus

    The Toronto Raptors have spent years building a competitive defense and they continued to impress in that regard last season.

    In fact, by grabbing long and athletic defenders like Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby, the Raptors core appears to be in a great position moving forward.

    That’ll only continue under Ime Udoka, whether or not they retain a free agent like 3-and-D wing Gary Trent Jr.

    Udoka, who was a defensive-minded player, brings that same mindset with him as a head coach. Gifted with the ability process information quickly, able to motivate a team with his authentic nature and competitive drive, and more than capable of putting together a scouting report on the opponent, Udoka has a great chance to make what’s already an impressive defense even more formidable moving forward.

    Maximizing talent

    The ability to maximize talent is an underrated one for head coaches. It’s that very same ability that would appear to separate him from Nick Nurse right now.

    To be fair, every head coach likely wants his players to be the best versions of themselves. So, Udoka having that mindset isn’t particularly rare. However, with players like 21-year-old forward Scottie Barnes having their work ethic questioned, Nurse didn’t appear to press the right buttons. Especially for a player that’s arguably the face of the franchise.

    That won’t be the case with Udoka leading the charge, as one of the reasons he was able to get the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals was his constructive criticism and honest feedback.

    While one would assume every coach is capable of doing that at an equal level, it’s simply not been the case. So, where Nurse’s lack of structure and accountability hindered the Raptors, Udoka’s mindset will help them.

    Player development isn’t just for rookies or young players. Even someone that’s been in the league for a decade can and still wants to be coached up.

    Another aspect of maximizing talent can be seen in assist numbers, as the team with players that create easy baskets for each other throughout the course of the game have a terrific chance of winning.

    The Raptors averaged 23.9 assists per game last season, 23rd in the NBA, despite Pascal Siakam being the only player on the team to score at least 1.00 point per possession on isolation attempts.

    His resume

    Not many candidates are going to be former NBA players with experience coaching under a Hall of Famer in Gregg Popovich and leading the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals.

    In fact, among the most popular head coaching candidates right now (meaning head coaching candidates currently receiving or expected to receive interviews), Udoka is the only one that’s proven that they can take a team to the NBA Finals outside of an old dog in Frank Vogel and Nick Nurse himself.

    There are multiple head coaching candidates that have are former NBA players:

    Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, former Overtime Elite head coach Kevin Ollie, New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach Jarron Collins, and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Sam Cassell are the ones who are most likely to take interviews this offseason.

    But again, when comparing Udoka to the rest of the field, not many can compare. Because while there are going to be other candidates with the invaluable first-hand experience of being an NBA player, none of those candidates has even one game of NBA head coaching experience between them.

    So, while his coaching resume really isn’t extensive at all, it still stacks up pretty well against the competition.

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