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Toronto Raptors Exciting New Head Coach: What To Expect In 2023

Nearly two months after parting ways with Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors have found their next head coach. The team is reportedly finalizing a deal with former Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Darko Rajakovic, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rajakovic has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2014, making stops in Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and Memphis. This will be his first head coaching opportunity at the top level. So how successful have Rajakovic teams been in the past? Here's a look at his coaching career thus far and what you can expect to see from the 2023-24 Toronto Raptors.

Getting To The NBA

Rajakovic got his first head coaching job with the Espacio Torrelodones in the Spanish EBA League. He coached there for three years before becoming the head coach of the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA G-League.

Tulsa went 27-23 in his first year, finishing third in the Central Division before falling in the second round of the playoffs. The 66ers had a 24-26 record the following year, failing to make the postseason.

Working Towards The Toronto Raptors

Oklahoma City was the first assistant coaching stop for Rajakovic. The Thunder made the postseason four of the five years with him on the coaching staff, including a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2016.

After Oklahoma City, Rajakovic found work with the Phoenix Suns. In his only season with the team, the Suns were tenth in the Western Conference with a 34-39 record.

Following his time in the desert, Rajakovic was hired by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020. Memphis picked up 145 wins and made the playoffs every year with the Serbian on their staff.

Moving Forward

The Toronto Raptors have a lot to figure out this offseason. Fred Vanvleet, Gary Trent Jr., Jakob Poeltl, and Dalano Banton could all become free agents at the end of the month, while star players Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby have been involved in recent trade rumors.

Although there is plenty of uncertainty, there are several positives to taking the Raptors head coaching gig. The team holds the 13th overall selection in the upcoming NBA Draft, and 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes is returning for his third season in Toronto. Barnes has the potential to be one of the league's top players, which should encourage.

Rajakovic as he begins his time with the Toronto Raptors. Rajakovic has won almost everywhere he's been in his nearly 30-year basketball career. Don't expect that to stop with a Toronto Raptors franchise looking for their second Larry O'Brien Trophy.


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