A new assistant coach and a couple random things; training camp can’t come soon enough
Brittni Donaldson, a data analyst already on staff with the Raptors, will assume the old analytics coaching position held by Eric Khoury.
The Toronto Raptors are adding Brittni Donaldson to their bench in a coaching shuffle.
The Raptors data analyst becomes the 10th female assistant coach in the NBA.
Nick Nurse confirmed the promotion on Sunday in Shanghai, where he’s coaching Canada’s men’s team at the FIBA World Cup.
The Raptors’ coaching shuffle will see Eric Khoury move to the Raptors 905 where he’ll serve in a more significant assistant role. Nurse also hired Fab Flournoy and Mark Tyndale as assistants this off-season.
The NBA is one of the most progressive pro leagues in terms of promoting women, and recent weeks have seen the hiring of several women as assistant coaches.
Sticking with the 3-Pointer
Of course, Nurse can’t abandon the three-point shot entirely, not in today’s NBA. Since it proved to be worthwhile just a season ago, there has to be a belief on the Raptors that the personnel can step up and produce a similar offense.
This would take leaps and bounds from the new additions to the roster. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been a subpar 3-point shooter over the course of his four-year career at 22.3 percent. In addition, neither Stanley Johnson or Cameron Payne strike fear into the hearts of opponents with a 29.3 and 33.1 three-point percent percentage, respectively. Unfortunately, I expect them to stay at the same relative level of years prior.
A potential diamond in the rough is Terence Davis. The guard spent four years at Ole Miss but went undrafted. The Raptors signed him to a two-year contract. With time, Davis could be one of those guards that we look back on and think, “How did this guy get overlooked?” Plus, he has a strong leader to guide him at his first NBA stop in Fred VanVleet, who also went undrafted. In Davis’ last year in college, he shot 37.1 percent from three, which is promising. But, with stiffer competition, growing pains should be expected for the rookie.
While it’s closer to the two-thirds mark in the year, the All-Star Break is often viewed as the midway point in the NBA season.
This season, All-Star Weekend takes place from Feb. 14 to Feb.16 – 55 games into the Raptors’ season.
Once the Raptors return from the break, they host the Phoenix Suns in the first of a four-game homestand that also includes Central Division powers Indiana and Milwaukee as well as a meeting with the Charlotte Hornets.
With Phoenix and Charlotte on each end of the homestand, Toronto again has two opportunities to take care of business against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year and aren’t projected to make the postseason in 2020. The Pacers and Bucks each provide unique challenges, but going 3-1 or 4-0 during this stretch would be major as the team prepares to head out west.
The Raptors begin the month of March in the Mile High City where they’ll face a legitimate contender in the Denver Nuggets to begin their second five-game road trip of the season. From there, Toronto will wrap its season series with Phoenix before the trip ramps up once again in San Francisco.
In a Finals rematch that will look a bit different, the Raptors will face a Warriors team that could very well have Klay Thompson back in the fold as he is expected to be back around that time of the year. Toronto will then travel 90 miles North to take on a Kings team that will likely be vying for a playoff spot with fewer than 20 games remaining in the season.
To close the five gamer, the Raptors head to one of the toughest road environments in the league as they visit the Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Again, breaking .500 should be the goal for Toronto, who will only have 18 games remaining on its schedule upon returning home. Gaining positive momentum ahead of the final stretch of the season is crucial for the Raptors and could be the difference between opening the postseason at Scotiabank Arena and not having home court advantage in the first round for the first time since 2008.
Both of the bigger pick-ups the Raptors got are bench players. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, from the Nets, and Stanley Johnson, from the Pelicans, are heading north.
Neither of these players adds a lot of offense to an already defensive-minded team.
Hollis-Jefferson will play behind Pascal Siakam at the Power Forward position. Hollis-Jefferson has been in the league for several years and has the ability to develop into a solid backup for Siakam. The main issue will be to work on his shooting.
He has a career average of 9.9 points a game and should under no circumstances be shooting a three-ball, his three-point career percentage is 22.3%.
Now, these stats would be mostly acceptable if it were a different situation. But having Hollis-Jefferson as the replacement for Green just doesn’t do it. Taking away offense and experience for someone who might one day develop is risky.
Before going into Stanley Johnson it’s important to note that, aside from a different superstar, the Raptors could not bring in anyone to fill the hole Leonard is leaving.
So, that brings us to the other replacement. Stanley Johnson was drafted in the same 2015 class as Hollis-Jefferson, so he has been in the league for some years. Though, he has never played in the playoffs before.
Defensively Johnson is above average. He is a great defender and should definitely not be looked over in that area. Where the real trouble is, is his offensive game. In his career, Johnson averages 7.0 points per game on 37.4 percent shooting and 29.3% beyond the arc. Those numbers are pretty abysmal.
Again, both of these players are solid defensively. But, being brought to a defensive-minded team they may not develop their offense as much as would be necessary for the team to succeed.
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