Jerry Stackhouse may have transitioned from the court to the sideline, but the two-time NBA All-Star can still get things done on the court.
A year after serving as a Toronto Raptors assistant coach, Stackhouse has found early success as the head man of their NBA D-League affiliate. And part of that success has come from leading by example. “When the team energy is down, he hops in the shell drill,” Raptors 905 forward C.J. Leslie told NBADLeague.com at the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase, which the 905 hosted in Mississauga, Ontario.
“Sometimes you have those practices where the team comes in, you know, not very energized. For him to be able to get out there is great — we gravitate to the energy.”
Energy certainly wasn’t a problem for the Raptors at Showcase, as they out-rebounded the Nets 53-40 and forced 15 turnovers en route to a 111-104 victory, completing the Showcase at a perfect 2-0. That helped that maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference at 18-7.
Just four years removed from his playing days, Stackhouse hasn’t wasted any time in making a smooth transition to the sideline. After his stint with the Raptors, Stackhouse led the organization’s Las Vegas Summer League team as a trial run of sorts. The experiment went well, and a few months later he was introduced as the new head coach of Raptors 905.
Thus far, the decision has paid off, with Raptors 905 currently riding a six-game winning streak and playing some of the best team ball in the league; the 905’s leading scorer and perhaps their top NBA prospect, Axel Toupane, averages just 16.5 points per game — remarkable in a league where it’s tempting to shoot for your own numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the fact that Stackhouse had a long and successful NBA career has been helpful to his new role, especially in how he relates to players. “You see it in film sessions or on the court,” Raptors 905 assistant coach David Gale told NBADLeague.com earlier this season. “He’ll tell the guys, ‘I know this s— is hard. I know it’s hard, but I did it. I did it for 18 years; I’m speaking from experience.’
“He can come in and say, ‘Jordan Crawford, I played against this guy. Here’s what he’s gonna do, here’s how you have to guard him.’ And the guys listen a little more intently, because they know he’s speaking from the fact that he’s played against the guy. It’s not just a coach watching film.”
Of course the basketball part of things has come easy to Stackhouse, but as he’s learned, there are plenty of other responsibilities that come with being head coach.
“There’s just so many different things that you have to manage. Not only just the X’s and O’s, which I love,” Stackhouse noted after the Raptors’ first Showcase game. “A lot of strategizing and doing different things for the games. Your training staff. Your PR staff. You know, everybody. Having to make time for all of that. It’s fun, I’m learning a lot. I’ve grown a lot in the first half of this season.”
So too has the young Raptors squad, which needs just six more wins to pass last year’s mark of 23, a fact that is music to the organization’s ears. Yes, player development is important in the D-League — but winning is as well.
“It’s all about winning. We don’t want to get into any mindset that losing is acceptable,” he said. “That’s from [Raptors GM and president of basketball operations] Masai [Ujiri] on up. Masai, he’ll tell you first time he talks to you, winning is all that matters. That’s ingrained in our culture, that’s who we are and I’m going to stick to that.”
And with the success Stackhouse has had early on, it seems likely the Raptors will stick with him.