The Toronto Raptors continued their winning ways in their first contest following the All-Star break, defeating the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
The Raptors had their franchise-record 15-game win streak snapped in their final game before the break, but with last night's win, they have now won 16 of their last 17 games and advanced to a remarkable 41-15 on the season sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Even more impressive - and almost unbelievable - is that with their most recent win, head coach Nick Nurse currently stands in as the winningest coach in NBA history.
Yes, you read that right. NBA history.
After leading Toronto to a 58-24 record in his first year as the team's head coach, his all-time record reads 99-39 - a winning percentage of .7174. That winning percentage eclipses all-time greats like Steve Kerr and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson, making Nurse the current winningest coach of all-time.
These stats do not include the postseason, as the case for most "of all-time" statements.
As you can see, the sample size makes this irreverent, but the numbers do hold. This is by no means to state that Nurse is the greatest coach of all-time, obviously.
Jackson spent 20 seasons as an NBA head coach and never had a losing season. He has 11 NBA titles, the highest winning percentage of any coach in the Hall of Fame and the highest winning percentage of any coach in NBA history that has coached over 500 games.
Kerr's overall record has taken a hit this season with the Warriors in last place at 12-44, but his first five seasons in Golden State gave him plenty of leg room. He's made it to the NBA Finals in all five years as a head coach, already has three championship rings and his Warriors passed Jackson's Bulls for the greatest regular season record of all-time at 73-9 back in 2015-16.
The fact that Nurse can be mentioned in the same sentence with either of these two is incredible in its own way.
Just last year, Nurse joined Kerr and seven other coaches in NBA history to win an NBA championship in their first season as head coach. Fresh off of leading the Raptors to a franchise-record 58 wins and an NBA title, Nurse has his team ready to make a playoff run again.
His team lost arguably the best player in the NBA in Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, they've had one of the most injury plagued seasons in the league and yet, Nurse still has this team on pace to flirt with a new franchise-record in wins.
Our NBA.com's Carlan Gay already outlined Nurse's case for Coach of the Year this season, and it's hard to argue against that logic.
Through all the injuries, after losing a top player, the Raptors still have the fourth-best net rating in the NBA anchored by the second-best defence in the league. Nurse isn't afraid to try untraditional, janky defensive schemes such as box-and-1's, zones and full court presses and traps, and his players buy in to whatever defence their head coach calls.
He also knows how to get the most out of his guys, as evidence of players like undrafted rookie Terence Davis and reserve forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepping into key roles and succeeding.
Nurse has already won Coach of the Month twice this season - in November and January - and with the Raptors win streak carrying into February, he's on the right track to earn the award this month, too.
If Toronto can keep this up, Nurse will be hard to pass on when it comes time to vote for the Red Auerbach Coach of the Year trophy.
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