Stay or Go? DeMar DeRozan

Masai Ujiri is in the throes of conducting a review of everything Raptor-related, and no one’s place in the locker room (or boardroom, or anywhere else) is safe. I’m going to put forward the case for retaining DeMar DeRozan, who would be one of the most desirable Raps to trade for in the eyes of other teams.

Apr 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dribbles the ball against Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

When I look at the body of work of this 23-year-old shooting guard, one thing jumps out at me – DeMar is never hurt. He has missed 3 games in 3 years. Staying injury-free in the NBA is hellish difficult, and whether one views it as a skill, or just dumb luck, it’s hugely valuable. What’s particularly impressive about DeMar’s sturdiness is the fact he doesn’t exactly shy away from contact. He ranked #8 in the league in free-throw attempts, most of which were earned the hard way. Game after game, DeMar would take the ball to the hole and get fouled for his pains. He would be knocked to the floor by the big men, yet bounce back up, and step to the foul line. DeMar made the opponents pay; he ranked #7 in free-throws made, with 355.

Since he’s been a Rap, this fellow has played 304 games, starting in 292 of them. He’s shown development in many ways through these lean years. He suffered through a dreadful shooting slump in the ’11-’12 season, but was allowed to play through it, and hasn’t endured anything like that since. His form is very solid. DeMar has increased his assists every season, and looked very comfortable dishing to Rudy Gay and Jonas V by last season’s end.

There’s lots to dislike about his game, too. His career 3-point shooting percentage is a dismal 23.9, and he’s never shown himself to be a demon defender. DeMar has suffered criticism for his efforts to get open on pick-n-pop plays, which I don’t think is warranted, having watched him a lot at home games for evidence of slackness.

Regardless, DeMar has punched the clock with amazing regularity during a down period in Raptor history. He’s healthy and consistent, and has improved every year. To me, shipping him out of town would create a bigger hole than is recognized, and I certainly hope our new GM comes to the same conclusion.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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.

Topics: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

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  • raffa

    There’s been a lot of internet chatter about discarding DeMar.
    Intuitively I disagree with it.
    Thanks for making the case to keep him.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi raffa: Always trust your intuition. The positives for DeMar outweigh the negatives. One other factor I didn’t mention for space reasons: he’s improved every season in the critical stats. I don’t think his ceiling is “Star”, but there’s a lot to be said for “Solid Player”.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Hoopgirl1st

    Unless we are going to gain hugely by giving up DeMar (1st and 2nd round pick in 2014) then what would we gain? If you are saying that Amir should be coming in off the bench, then who are the starters who provide us with offence. Most of the rest of the squad is B list at best and even if we were to tank to get good picks in 2014, you have to have some solid stock from whom the incoming rookies can learn and with whom the kids can play.
    Amir, DeMar, Jonas, Terrance, even Lowry are still maturing.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Hoopgirl: If the pundits are correct, this is NOT the draft class to be trading into.
      I think you are right about how the starting group are maturing. Perhaps the best decision for Masai is NO decision. Give the current group 30 games next season as starters, then blow it up if they are not at 15-15 or better.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • nyStef

    To me, DeMar’s sort of an in-betweener, athletically speaking. He’s got hops galore … but if you measure his athleticism from other perspectives, he might be below NBA averages. Which is probably why he doesn’t rate that highly as a defender. My guess is that Masai sniffs around to see what he might land in return … and if the right deal comes along, boom, he’s gone.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi nyStef: You’re far from alone in your point of view, particularly about his athleticism. That said, I always gravitate towards improving players, and DD has shown slow but unmistakable upticks in his critical numbers.
      I certainly would not class DD as untouchable, but he’s not crazy-expensive, and he’s a solid citizen. It better be the “right deal” for sure.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • AM

    Demar is only 23 years old. I’m still curious to see where he can get to and how he and Rudy play alongside each other. He (and Rudy) must get their 3p% up. If he does, that right away makes him difficult to guard as he’s so athletic.

    I also like that he has made improvements to his game every year (not huge but it does say something).

    I hope Ujiri keeps the core group together in the offseason and waits to see how they play.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi AM: I like your last thought. I’ve gone on record as saying the team is not far away from respectability. Ujiri’s best move may be no moves at all.
      If DD and Rudy can average 45 PPG between them next season, we’ll be a good team.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Jagga Jatt

    I would keep Demar because the Raptors fans like him, and he likes the Raptors. I don’t see any MAJOR reason to trade him. His 3 point shot is coming, he shot well at the end of the season (see 36 point game vs. nets). And his salary is reasonable. Monta Ellis gets paid 11 millions, Monta ellis and Demar Derozan have similar stats for their first 4 seasons before a breakout season by Ellis. We traded T-mac too quick also, and didn’t get to see his real skill. My point: we can’t trade him right now because its too soon. We don’t know what he is capable off.

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