Dwane Casey has been named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December, the Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday.
Casey helped lead the Raptors to an 11-3 month, putting them firmly back in the mix for for the top seed in the conference playoff bracket. Those standings could matter for Casey again soon, as he’d stand to coach one of the All-Star teams if the Raptors have the best record in the East two weeks out from the All-Star Game, or if they’re second to Boston (Brad Stevens coached in the game last war and coaches can’t do back-to-back years).
The job Casey has done retooling the offense in an image that is not his default style has been impressive. The Raptors always-great regular season offense has been better than ever before, and the team is getting there with a more varied and efficient approach. Casey has also fashioned a top-10 defense out of this group, kept minutes for his two stars at the lowest level they’ve been in years, and with maybe one exception, every young role player is fitting in or even thriving.
The big-picture love for the job Casey is doing may not come until the postseason, as that’s where a lot of the team’s growth will be measured by skeptics. In the meantime, Casey continues to show improvement each year against perceptions and amid occasional job certainty questions. There’s a decent chance if this continues that he winds up with some Coach of the Year votes, though a lot would have to break right for him to actually win the award.
It’s true that the December schedule was lighter, which he can’t really control. The Raptors mostly took care of business, matched a franchise record for consecutive home wins in the process, and have largely done it the way Masai Ujiri envisioned when we all thought “culture reset” meant a coaching change. It’s nice to see a Casey get a nod of respect here with his fifth career Coach of the Month award, the fifth consecutive season in which he’s earned the award once.
Note: Woof. Sorry for all the typos in the initial draft. Don’t write stories on your phone on the treadmill.