DeMar DeRozan accepting a lesser role will benefit Raptors


DeMar DeRozan is one of the NBA’s top players in the regular season. However, his playoff struggles are well-known. Can they be fixed?

TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 05: Lebron James
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 05: Lebron James /

There are players who are competent within a coach’s system, but little more. Then there are some players who separate themselves from the bunch – we call them NBA stars. They enjoy the ability to create their own offense if needed, and make the tough shots in the clutch.

Can an NBA player be labelled a star if his team performs better when he’s off the floor?

What defines an NBA star?

There seems to be a usual pattern of a regular-season dominance in the East with the Raptors, then the disappointing playoff runs. In times like those, the stars of the team are questioned, particularly DeMar DeRozan.

Ask yourself what defines an NBA star to you; It could be a player that leads his team to victories over the opposing team. Players with an almost automatic and lethal ability to score or defend the ball. A player who raises the intensity and level of play of his team by his great leadership. Players who come up big in high pressure and intense moments.

Things start to become clear that DeRozan doesn’t fit a lot of these definitions. DeMar is credited to be one of the elite scorers without even much of a three-point shot. But at what cost does his team pay to achieve his scoring numbers?

DeRozan’s Woes

In 8 seasons, the Toronto Raptors have a better point margin with DeMar only once, in 2012. Comparing that to James Harden 3 seasons with OKC and 5 season with the Houston Rockets, Harden only had 1 season where the Rockets were better without him. [Stats courtesy of]

DeMar has his moments of being a great scorer but is very limited in the way he gets his shots. The Raptors guard doesn’t usually play off-ball, where he gets his points from cutting to the basket. In DeRozan’s case, he almost always has an iso or has a screen set for him, where he will look to score instinctively.

DeMar’s game is similar to Kobe Bryant’s, but what made Kobe a threat was that he could score from anywhere on the floor, and came up big when the pressure was high. DeRozan’s lack of a three-point shot takes away from the Raptors spacing. DeRozan can’t take the intensity of the NBA playoffs, where he’s never shot better than 43% FG. He attempted 15 threes throughout the postseason and made only one. In today’s league where spacing and having a three-point game is crucial to extend the longevity of your career, DeRozan lacks significantly.

Time to take a step back

DeRozan needs to take a step back in the Raptors offense if they hope to contend this season and focus on team-oriented offense.

"“They say they’re going to try something different, I would love to see it (work)” said DeMarre Carroll. It’s always good to do it,” then added he believes they will start the season trying to stick to the new plan.”"

OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 17: DeMar DeRozan /

Imagine if DeRozan had switched places with the Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson. Klay would not just increase his scoring average, but bump Raptors offensive rating from 109.8 to a projected 111.2. This is due to his off-ball offense and lethal 3-point range, where he shoots 41% attempting 8.3 threes a game. On the other hand, DeMar isn’t comfortable playing in a three-point, team-oriented system. The Warriors offensive rating would go down from 113.2 to a projected 111.8. [Stats courtesy of]

DeRozan has spent time this offseason working on his three-pointers, hoping to extend his range.

If DeRozan can manage to shoot any better than the 26% 3PT he shot this season it would improve the Raptors offense. DeMar also must accept a lesser role and learn to play off the ball more and start to give the young talent on the bench more touches. He needs to learn to be the vocal leader and if the Raptors need somebody to get them out of a scoring slump, DeRozan can be the man.

Until DeRozan can accept a smaller part in the Raptors offensive play, the Raptors will easily be contained in the post-season. If DeMar has something to prove next season, acceptance and leadership will be the first thing to stand out.