Name: DeMar DeRozan
Position: Shooting Guard
Weight: 216 lbs.
Season with Raptors: 3
2011-2012 Stats: 63 GP, 35 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 2.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 42.2 FG%, 26.1 3P%, 81.0 FT%, 12.87 PER
Analysis: DeMar is a player on the bubble. Since he joined the Raps as a One & Done draft pick (No. 9 overall) out of USC, he has been counted on to provide consistent scoring at the 2. By no stretch of the imagination is DeRozan a bust, but the holes in his game are troubling. When the league average PER is 15, DD’s 12.87 is unacceptable. Last season he fell into a dreadful shooting slump shortly after Bargnani went down, and the Raptors suffered mightily. While he was allowed the PT and the space to play himself out of his troubles, it is unlikely he will have the same luxury this season, should his shooting go MIA again.
DeMar is now a veteran, not the wide-eyed teenager who first arrived in Toronto. Both his body and his role on the team have filled out. He will be expected to provide field goals on pick-N-pop situations, and alley-oops, which he will. However those are table stakes; if he’s going to elevate his game, he must discover a 3-point shot. A swingman with a career rate of 20.6% from distance is not a credible NBA player. Linas Kleiza, Landry Fields and (hopefully) Terrence Ross will be breathing down DeMar’s neck from Day 1 of camp. DD must become a legitimate threat from downtown, as it will set up his other scoring options, and those of his teammates. DeMar must also upgrade his defense and rebounding, both of which are OK. This season, unlike his previous ones, OK won’t cut it.
If DeMar gets shipped out of town (and there’s no shortage of fans who would be happy to pack his bags and throw him on, or under, a departing bus), it won’t be as a result of bickering with his mates, or because he’s leading an anti-Casey cabal. His quiet and serious personality is the antithesis of knucklehead. He goes out of his way to establish friendships even with players trying to take his job, and there is no hint of dissatisfaction at being a Raptor.
Key stat to watch-FG%: DeMar’s shooting percentage was 49.8% as a rookie, and has dropped every season since. If that continues, he won’t be a starter much longer. Opponents have taken to sagging off him, and will do so until he proves he can hurt them from distance. Assuming the Raps break camp with a small forward who can score, DeMar won’t have to contend with as much defensive pressure, and should be able to bury open jumpers, and take it to the hole, with greater frequency.
He stays on the floor if: He takes advantage of his opportunities. DeMar is more than capable of creating his own shot with his speed and hops, and is highly effective on the fast break. He will be at worst the second option in half-court sets. However, Dwane Casey won’t be patient this year. Should DeMar falter, Coach will drop him to the second unit at warp speed.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.