It’s July 2018, and newly-promoted Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is preparing to enter his first season as an NBA head coach. At the time, no one knew just how successful his tenure would be. Five years later, and Nurse is in the same position - tasked with taking a roster of theoretically top-tier players to its highest potential as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
Before embarking on his journey in the Big Apple, Nurse had a whole summer to prepare for the challenge ahead. He watched videos and analyzed data, and formulated a plan for how he wanted the Raptors to succeed. He created an offense that relied heavily on ball movement and 3-pointers, while also encouraging players to attack the basket and draw fouls. The offensive system worked wonders for the Raptors, as they reached the Finals in 2018-19 and clinched their first NBA title the following season.
In 2021, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired former Toronto Raptors’ All-Star forward/center Joel Embiid, who was immediately on board with Nurse’s plan. During the first round games of the 2021 playoffs, Embiid praised Nurse’s philosophy and style, noting that the team had adopted the same methods as the Raptors when it came to drawing fouls and attacking the basket. The success that Nurse and the Sixers had during the regular season is a testament to the effectiveness of his offensive scheme.
Over the course of the regular season, the Sixers outscored their opponents by 2.1 points per 100 possessions when Embiid wasn’t on the court, according to Cleaning The Glass. This statistic shows how important it is for teams to have a reliable source of scoring, and it’s clear that Nurse’s offense was able to provide just that during the 2021 season.
Nurse’s journey from the head coach of a relatively lesser-known team to the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets has been meteoric. He has proven that his offensive philosophies are effective in helping teams achieve success, which is why he is highly regarded as one of the top NBA coaches today. He took the Raptors to the next level and has now set out to do the same with the Nets. It’ll be interesting to see how his offensive strategies will help the Nets reach their highest potential.