DeMar DeRozan: ready to make the switch to “new” NBA?


An article in Grantland provides strong statistical evidence of something most of us suspected was already the case: the future belongs to NBA teams which move the ball. Written by analytics wizard Kirk Goldsberry, the article also clears up any doubts we may have had about the value of long two-point attempts, and whether three-point shooting is really important. To summarize: Long twos are bad, three-pointers are good.

Why this is relevant to the Toronto Raptors, and in particular to the future of DeMar DeRozan, is probably already apparent to you. DeMar is at something of a professional crossroads. His successful career has been built upon his ability to drive to the hoop, and frequently drawing fouls as a result. DeMar was second in the NBA among shooting guards last season, averaging 7.2 free throws Per Game [PG]. While he has a reputation as a selfish player, his 3.5 assists PG is respectable. (Like every other shooting guard, DeMar’s numbers trail James Harden’s by a lot.)

Where DeMar falls flat is with his 3-point shooting, which doesn’t even rise to the level of mediocre. An unsightly 28.4% rate last season is in line with his career average of 27. He doesn’t take many, and he makes precious few. What he does take a lot of is long and oft-contested jump shots. Author Goldsberry has invented a disparaging acronym, OMFG, or on-my-own midrange field goal, to describe unassisted long-2 attempts.

DeMar has been given carte-blanche to shoot almost at will since the day he arrived in town. Many of his shots are of the OMFG variety, and that’s going to be a challenge to fix. The Raptors’ offense, like every team’s, has moments where the gears don’t mesh, and someone (often DeMar) has to take a bad shot as the shot clock winds down. Somehow he will have to learn to reduce the number of 20-foot jumpers taken when he’s not under time pressure, and keep the ball moving.

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We can hope the presence of a dependable small forward (DeMarre Carroll) will help DeMar get weaned away from his diet of OMFGs. So would a true stretch-4, although Patrick Patterson hasn’t been up to the task so far. DeMar does take a lot of the best shots in hoops, namely lay-ups and free throws. But since he can’t make three-balls unless he’s left on his own (like Amir Johnson’s “summertime threes” of last year), he shouldn’t try.

Oct 8, 2015; Ontario, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) guards Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the first quarter of the game at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In sum, I’d like to see DD spike his assist total above 4.5 by mid-season. That would signify a commitment to ball movement, and a sound reason to keep him on the cornerstone list. If not…if his numbers look awfully similar to this past season’s…Masai Ujiri may take some drastic action prior to the trade deadline of February 18.

Next: Terrence Ross - ready for take-off?

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