Honestly, Jerry Stackhouse didn’t be in the D-League. Rather than making his way to the NBADL as a head coach of the Raptors 905, the former 2x NBA All-Star could’ve just remained as an assistant on Dwayne Casey’s Toronto Raptors coaching staff. In that position, Stackhouse could spent the next few seasons learning about the idiosyncrasies of being a coach while waiting for some rebuilding team to give him a shot.
However, Stackhouse isn’t like most former players that aspire to be an NBA head coach. Rather than spend the next few years under Casey, Stackhouse decided to take a huge chance to become the next head coach of the Raptors 905, their NBADL affiliate.
Although Stackhouse didn’t know much about the D-League before taking that Raptors 905 opportunity, it allowed him to have the kind of freedom that no assistant coach has. While NBA assistants have to fill a particular position within that team’s coaching staff, Stackhouse immediately became the boss of the 905. As a D-League head coach, Stackhouse would be able to call his own shots, call his own timeouts, make his own rotations, and call his own plays on the fly.
Unlike most new coaches that need time to adjust their new role, Stackhouse immediately became comfortable with the responsibilities that come with being a team’s head coach. From the moment that he landed in Mississaugua, Stackhouse instantly implemented a defensive-minded game plan that shuts off the paint and basically forces opposing teams to take perimeter jumpers. That type of ideology is something that you’re more likely to see from the Wisconsin Badgers or Virginia Cavaliers than your standard NBA D-League squad.
Luckily for Stackhouse, his approach to the game matched perfectly for the players that were added to the 905’s rotation. From the jump, Stackhouse was able to build his defense around a slew of defensive-minded players with wingspans that would make Jay Bilas blush. Among the squad’s rotation, their defensive unit was led by the following trio: 6’9 forward CJ Leslie (7’2 wingspan), 6’7 wing Axel Toupane (6’11 wingspan) and 7’3 center Edy Tavares (7’9 wingspan).
Stackhouse’s mindset combined with those terrific players pushed the 905 to become an immediate defensive powerhouse. With that great combination, opponents averaged a league-low 98.8 points per game against the 905’s defensive unit.
While that defensive performance looks amazing on paper, it becomes more impressive when you factor in the multitude of issues that Stackhouse had to face during the season. Some of those issues include the team trading Jarrod Uthoff during the middle of the season, Axel Toupane getting called up by the Bucks, and the squad losing key two-way reserve Will Sheehey to a season-ending injury.
Although those problems may deter most teams, Stackhouse and the Raptors 905 pushed on to ending the season with a 39-11 record, which is the second-best season in the NBA D-League history. Coinciding with that, the team maintained the best road record in NBADL history at 21-4.
As we’ve continued to state, Stackhouse’s defensive game plan is probably the biggest reason behind that success. However, the first-year coach has also pushed the 905 to be one of the more efficient offensive squads in the D-League. During the season, the 905 maintained a solid 57% True Shooting Perecentage, which is the fifth-most efficient team average in the D-League.
The 905 were able to do that by moving exceptionally well ( third in assist percentage) which was enough to open things up for Brady Heslip, who stands as arguably the best perimeter shooter that’s not in the NBA. That huge acclaim is backed up by Heslip shooting 42% from beyond the arc on 9 perimeter attempts per game.
Although a lot of credit goes to the 905’s roster, I don’t think team would stand as the finest squad in the NBA D-League if Stackhouse wasn’t the team’s head coach. That success has allowed us to name Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse as RidiculousUpside’s Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 D-League season.
Last season’s winner: David Arseneault Jr, Reno Bighorns