Is Raptors’ DeRozan worth a max contract?


There’s no bigger decision facing Raptors GM Masai Ujiri than how much money to offer pending free agent DeMar DeRozan. What factors need to be taken into consideration?

[Editor’s Note: Rapture Nation, please welcome our newest staff writer, Mikhail Heller.  This is his first post.]

October 5, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half in a preseason game at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s now a month away from All-Star weekend in Toronto and the Raptors haven’t done a bad job of holding their own in the much tougher than last year’s Eastern Conference.

They boast a record of 25-15, with DeMar DeRozan posting a career field goal percentage of 44.6. DeRozan is in his fourth year of his five-year deal and it should come as no surprise that he will opt out in order to become a free agent this summer and sign a maximum contract with Toronto worth $25 million per year — but how willing is general manager Masai Ujiri.

One of the biggest story lines this season for the Raps is DeRozan’s contract situation heading into the summer.

I remember when DeMar was first drafted back in 2009, during the Bryan Colangelo era. DeMar was the epitome of a raw two-guard. I saw a kid from Compton, CA with explosive, highlight reel dunks slowly carve himself into the dynamic scorer with an uncanny ability to get to the foul line and one of the meanest stink faces in the league. The 2013-14 season was his best yet, averaging 22.7 points per game and invited to play in the All-Star game as a reserve by the coaches.

So far, he’s 10th in scoring this season, averaging 22.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Not bad coming out of your back court but, how efficient are those numbers? In order to sort out DeRozan’s worth, you must first have to look at his usage per game and how he actually effects his team.

More from Raptors News

He’s averaging a 28.7 usage rate, scoring 29.8 percent of the team’s points, while also averaging 36.6 minutes per game. That’s a huge chunk of Toronto’s offense DeMar is called upon to provide on a nightly basis. But where are all those points coming from? And how efficient are the shots that DeRozan takes?

He’s still elite at getting to the foul line this season only behind DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden, respectively. DeRozan’s averaging 8.3 free throw attempts per game while shooting 84 percent at the line

Nov 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) goes to the basket and scores as he is fouled against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. The Suns beat the Raptors 107-102. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

43.9 percent of his shots are coming less than 10 feet from the rim and 40.3 are off of pull-up jump shots. Almost an even split between where he’s generating his offensive when the shot clock is going. However, DeRozan’s field goal percentage around the rim is 54.1 as opposed to shooting 38.9 off his dribble. Plain and simple, a driving DeRozan is a more efficient DeRozan.

Also, how does he impact team defence?

Defence is supposed to be one of the main reasons the Raptors made adjustments to the roster this past summer, moving from 25th last season to ninth this season.

As a wing defender DeRozan will generally guard more three pointers attempted. He’s holding opponents to 42.8 when guarding three-pointers. He’s more below average when guarding the three, compared to other shooting guards in the league such as Klay Thompson (30.8), Jimmy Butler (39.2), and James Harden (39.4) who all hold opponents to under 40 percent when guarding the perimeter.

It’s what you get when you take DeMar as is. He’s a volume shooter with more upside on offense than defence.

The next thing you have to look at is his demand. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN “a bunch of teams, including DeRozan’s hometown Lakers, are prepared to offer him a max deal starting at $25 million per season.” Apparently Brooklyn is in the mix too, as reported by Brian Lewis of the New York Post. It’s hard to imagine DeRozan would sign with another team in a rebuilding situation, let alone disastrous Brooklyn, after two consecutive post-season appearances with Toronto.

All in all, posting career numbers this season definitely adds to DeRozan deserving a max deal but, just like the Raptors success will be gauged by how well they perform in the playoffs — so will resigning DeMar.