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.
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.