Eric Khoury’s Passion for Basketball Leads to Raptors905 Head Coach Gig

Eric Khoury drops a reference to Newton’s Laws of Motion early in the conversation, mentions his master’s thesis, and then talks about using the reams of data available to discern the predictive nature of sports.

No, the new Raptors905 manager is not a lifer cut from the same cloth as many professional coaches.

But there sat the 33-year-old Toronto native on Wednesday, all installed as the new head coach of the Raptors’ Mississauga-based G League affiliate, a testament to his pursuit of his unlikely goals and of the combination of passions for learning and for sports that can take a man in many different directions.

“I think it shows that you can come from any background, any diverse background and if you show interest in the game, passion for the game, hard work…you don’t don’t necessarily need to come from the more traditional, ‘well, I coached at this level, now at this level and slowly work your way up the ranks,’” Khoury said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

“If you show that you have a passion for the game and you bring a cool perspective or a different perspective and are willing to work hard, it’s possible to take it to the next level.”

Now, it’s not like the Raptors pulled Khoury from Geek U to succeed Patrick Mutombo as head coach of 905. Khoury has been with the Raptors organization for nearly a decade in a myriad of roles.

He started in the team’s analytics department developing algorithms to discern different basketball actions, served as the Raptors’ basketball operations and analytics manager, served as an assistant coach at the 2019 NBA Championship team and spent two seasons as a senior assistant with 905 before joining Nick. Nurse’s Raptors staff last season.

His deep background may be college, but his basketball chops are undeniable.

“He started in an analytical space, he went a little more into the manager/operations space, then he went into more of the training and tactical space and he went into development and now he’s going to be able to be head coach,” said Courtney Charles, vice president of Raptors905.

“And it’s because he’s had all these different experiences that this organization has been great in giving him access, in giving him resources, now he’s able to apply himself as a head coach of a G League team that is always on the lookout for innovative minds and innovative things not only to excite our fans, but also to develop our players.

Khoury isn’t going to reinvent basketball coaching or change the nature of the business in any tangible way. But his deep knowledge and diverse background might provide some perspective. He’ll work hand-in-hand with Nurse on goals and organizational styles, but he might approach things in a different way.

Hence the Isaac Newton reference.

“Let’s go to the laws of Newton’s principle, right?” he said laughing. “If you don’t know the basics of physics, you won’t be able to develop all of the amazing equations that will come out of it, and I think it’s very similar to basketball. If you don’t know the basics… You can design all these amazing and complex games, but nothing good will come of it if you can’t execute the principles.

“So I’m very focused on not having a whole bunch of rules… but having a lot of principles that you can very strongly execute on.”

And if it works, the players will be fine.

“The players are really smart people,” he said. “If you can show that you can help them grow and become better players and help them contribute to winning and contributing to their success, you can have an open and honest dialogue.

“If you just throw numbers at them and say what that even means, that doesn’t help me, then you’re not going anywhere. And I’ve never been one to just throw pieces of paper and walking away I didn’t think it made sense so it’s about communicating and taking very dense data and putting it in a digestible way that could actually help win or contribute to their hit.

List of Raptors905 head coaches in franchise history, with team record and where they currently are:

  • Jesse Mermuys (2015-16): 23-27, Orlando Magic assistant coach
  • Jerry Stackhouse (2016-18): 70-30, Vanderbilt University head coach
  • Jama Mahlalela (2018-20): 51-42, Golden State Warriors assistant coach with
  • Patrick Mutombo (2020-22): 36-11, Phoenix Suns assistant coach

  • Eric Khoury (2022-present)

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