Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)
Wednesday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors announced the four final spots of coaches added to their staff. The likes of Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo (Scar-Eee-Oh-Low), Nate Bjorkgren (Bee-ork-gren) and Phil Handy will join the assistant coaching roles behind Patrick Mutombo, Jim Sann and Eric Khoury to round up Nick Nurse’s staff for the 2018-19 NBA season.
38-year old Patirck Mutombo is a former Congolese basketball player from the Democratic Republic of Congo who also played in the Italian league (Lega Basket Serie A). Mutombo also played at the University of Metro State in Denver back in 1999 until 2003 in the NCAA at the Division Two level, winning two titles in 2000 and 2002. In his final championship run in 2002, Mutombo scored 29 points in the final game and was named Most Valuable Player. Scoring 1,360 points in his career, Mutombo was inducted into the Metro State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. That same year, Mutombo began his coaching career in the NBA joining the Denver Nuggets as a player development coordinator. In 2012 he was then promoted to an assistant coach.
Jim Sann has been in the NBA as part of numerous staffs for just over a decade now. He has found his way back to Toronto after being with the Raptors in 2003 as an assistant coach. He then left the year after in 2004, joining the Houston Rockets as an advance scout. After the 2005 season, Sann joined the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets) as an assistant coach and coaching associate until 2010. From 2010-12, Sann joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach and video coordinator. Sann ultimately made his way back to Nets shortly after his two-year stint with the Bulls for a few more seasons, and has now landed his role back on the Raptors’ bench. Also joining Mutombo and Sann will be Eric Khoury. Khoury joins the Toronto Raptors as the final assistant coach and will also serve part in the analytics aspect of the job.
Adrian Griffin is a name who may sound familiar to some. The 44-year old retired small forward played nine seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Chicago Bulls. Shortly after his playing career had ended. Griffin joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008 as an assistant for the next two seasons. In 2010, Griffin became an assistant coach for Tom Thibodeau for the next five years in Chicago, ultimately ending in 2015. He then joinde the Orlando Magic for a season in 2016. Griffin helped USA Basketball win a gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup as an assistant. After his short job with the Magic, Griffin was hired by Oklahoma City under head coach Billy Donavon for two seasons.
The 57-year old Sergio Scariolo is next to join the Raptors’ staff. Scariolo has a pretty decent résumé, winning Coach of the Year Awards and many championships overseas. Scariolo first won an Italian League championship in 1990 and winning Italian Coach of the Year in 1994. In the year 2000, Scariolo won the AEEB Spanish Coach of the Year (Spanish Basketball League). Scariolo is also a two-time Spanish Cup winner in 1999 and 2005, and also a two-time Spanish League Champion in 2000 and 2006. Scariolo also has a great Olympic record as a head coach of the Spanish national team, winning the gold at the EuroBasket 2009, 2011 and 2015 and a bronze medal in 2017. He also won the silver in the 2012 summer Olympic games and a bronze medal at the 2016 summer Olympic games.
Nate Bjorkgren is a 43-year old Norwegian-based basketball coach and former player out of The University of South Dakota and Buena Vista University. He started his basketball days back in 1994 to 1998, yet never made it far as a player. Ever since 1998, he has been coaching. Whether it be as a high school coach in Phoenix, Arizona, or coaching in the G-League, Bjorkgren has some really great experience as a coach. He is mainly known for his assistant coaching role with the Phoenix Suns in 2015 to 2017.
And lastly, there's Phil Handy. Handy is the final staff member to round out the coaching roles for Toronto. Handy was introduced to the Raptors' organization in a surprising fashion. The latest addition for Toronto - Danny Green - debuted his new podcast where he confirmed that Handy would be joining the Raptors’ coaching staff. Pretty neat right? Although it wasn't confirmed in an official statement at the time, Green knew it was certain that Handy was going to join the Raptors. Handy’s NBA resume began in 2011 where he was with the Lakers as a player development coach. He stayed with the Lakers for two seasons, where he then moved on to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 and worked up to become the director of player development, as well as a full-on assistant coach in until the 2018 season.
Seven open spots are now seven secured spots. Toronto took their time securing up these coaching positions, acquiring a ton of coaching experience. The résumés are stacked and ready to go. The NBA season is still months away, but we’re not that far away from finding out the 2018-19 NBA schedule. There's a lot of buzz surrounding the Raptors on how they’ll do this season with the new All-Star addition, Kawhi Leonard, and the sharpshooting Danny Green. Along with this new and improved coaching staff, I’m sure they’re going to do just fine.
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