Jan 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) carries the ball against the Detroit Pistons during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan: A master class in professionalism

The Toronto Raptors’ defeat of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday evening was highlighted by double-figured scoring from all five starters. DeMar DeRozan had 19 points, a fraction below his seasonal average. Yet DD struggled mightily all game. He was 3 of 15 shooting, and all of those makes were layups. In other words, he missed all 12 attempts of his bread & butter jump shot. Short ones or long, contested or open, baseline or elbow - every shot went clank. I thought he played brilliantly.

Jan 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) watch a loose ball during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before I example that seemingly bizarre conclusion to the first paragraph, let me step away. Every professional athlete has off-days. Tiger Woods’ putts lip out or his drives find the rough, Rafael Nadal’s first serves keep hitting the net or his backhands fly long. No great player is immune from substandard play, whatever the sport. What distinguishes the top-rank athletes from their run-of-the-mill competitors is (among other things) the ability to compensate. While our man DeMar is by no means a great player (yet?), he showed me he knows how to adjust. The jump shot isn’t falling – OK, time to do something else. DD didn’t bang the floor with his hand in frustration, hang his head or whine to the referees. Instead, he started driving to the basket, often receiving a pass after he started his forward motion, to generate extra momentum. DD got fouled, a lot. He made 16 free throw attempts, and hit 13. Throw in 4 assists, 2 steals and 6 boards et voila; a significant contribution to an important victory.

On a night when fatigue had to be a factor (although I’m sure he’d deny it if asked) DeMar found an alternate route to success. It was a marvelous example to his youthful teammates of how to shift gears when your primary offensive weapon is misfiring. The fact his seasonal shooting percentage was damaged matters only to stats geeks. DD took a giant step forward as a professional this night, and I’m sure his team, and his coaches, were thrilled at his performance. So should we fans.

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.

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Tags: DeMar DeRozan Detroit Pistons Toronto Raptors

  • Holly Golightly

    In a world of selfish and immature athletes, DeRozan is a joy to behold. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted harder for an athlete to succeed. He practically carried the team single-handedly against Indiana the night before and then found a way to contribute when his shot wasn’t falling against Detroit. He looks mighty comfortable as the team’s first option.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Holly:
      I’m sure you must be taking some quiet pleasure in seeing the guy you’ve been rooting for become such a huge contributor. DeMar has been on losing teams throughout his career in Toronto, yet wants to stick it out and savor the joy of consistent winning. Guys like this are rare, and must be held on to. You’re quite right – there are a lot (too many) of selfish and immature athletes, and our man DeMar isn’t a member of that ungrateful rabble.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Guy

    Hey Brian.

    I must admit, last year, I was more a part of the camp that felt it might be worthwhile to explore a trade with Derozan as part of a the package. It was his 4th year, he was still not overly impressive & the team was disappointing. I had suggested the team explore a DD/Bargnani & change for Pau Gasol trade mainly because I thought Gasol would be a good mentor for JV & Pau’s contract expires this year. Who knows, maybe a more subtle play for Gasol could still work. But, here we are now, & I’m glad my suggestion was ignored. Demar has not only improved, he’s made significant strides in terms of being a facilitator, and he’s one of those seemingly rare NBA players that likes TO & wants to win in there. He’s a dangerous offensive player that’s improving his assist totals, his defensive play & is becoming more of a leader. One only needed to see the end of the Miami game last week to see this. In a hard fought, overtime game against the Heat, Lowry, who has become a leader himself, missed a game-tying 3 pointer at the end of the OT period. Lowry was heart-broken. As they walked off the court in defeat, who was there to put his arm around KL…..? Derozan. That’s leadership.

    I hope DD sticks around.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      Well said! “That’s leadership.” It certainly is, and a Raps squad without DD would be much poorer.
      I’m sure Masai Ujiri is fielding a lot of calls from other GMs asking about DD’s (and Kyle’s) availability. I hope he politely hangs up.
      I’m glad you mentioned the improvement in his assist totals. I think that’s another tribute to his determination to becoming a well-rounded professional.
      Thanks for commenting.