|Toronto Raptors; Jay Triano disagrees with officials during a game with the Milwaukee Bucks. (REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson)
TORONTO - With each loss suffered by the Raptors, the misguided calls for Jay Triano’s head increase.
Many people see 14-39 in the won-lost column and come to the conclusion that Toronto’s head coach is doing a terrible job and should be replaced.
That opinion is not shared by a fair number of the NBA’s heavy-hitters.
Phil Jackson has spoken highly of Triano this season and his main rival for best coach in the game — now that Utah’s Jerry Sloan has sadly left the building — Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, was the latest to praise Triano following Wednesday’s 111-100 loss to the Spurs.
“I thought Coach Triano had a great gameplan and they gave us all we could handle,” Popovich said of the Raptors, who took a three-point lead into the final quarter.
“I thought they worked hard from the beginning to the end and put us in a lot of situations where it really hurt us defensively.”
Working hard has been a staple of Triano’s Raptors. It has had to be, given the glaring lack of talent on hand, which is the fault of the general manager, not the head coach.
With little to work with, the coach has still managed to helm a team that has been blown out very few times this season.
Sure, Triano has to take a decent share of the blame for the Raptors’ horrible defence and he has made some questionable rotational decisions, but in turn, he also must be given credit for the development of DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and even Andrea Bargnani who, despite his faults, is playing the best basketball of his career and has been benched when needed under Triano.
A lot is still unknown with Triano, now in his third year (and second full one) in charge, largely because of the talent gap he is forced to overcome every night.
The Niagara Falls native might not be the answer here. But then again, he might be. We really don’t know at this point and won’t have a clear picture really until he has a legit group to work with.
What is known is that he was good enough to take a Canadian team with Steve Nash and little else on a memorable run at the 2000 Summer Olympics that could have culminated in a top-four finish with another win or two. He’s also been good enough to be lauded by two of the NBA’s top coaches plus reigning coach of the year Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City and to be hired by USA Basketball to work with its young players.
We don’t know how much Triano had to do with it, but it doesn’t hurt his case that the likes of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon and MVP candidate Derrick Rose have been significantly improved after working with him, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Nate McMillan with USA Basketball this summer.
Like all young coaches, Triano has work to do and much to learn.
But to say Toronto’s record sums up how good a bench boss he currently is and even more presumptuously, ever will be, is a crock.
And it certainly isn’t an opinion shared by those whose thoughts Triano himself actually cares about.