Teamwork the key to Raptors success according to DeRozan

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 05: DeMar DeRozan /

Heading into his ninth season in the NBA, DeMar DeRozan says that he and Kyle Lowry can’t be alone in the fight to bring success to Toronto.

Just two days before the Raptors open their 2017 training camp in Victoria, British Columbia, DeMar DeRozan is speaking up about how Toronto will be able to have success this season.

In an essay published by the Toronto Star, the USC product admits that after consecutive seasons of 50-plus wins the Raptors are still not taken seriously.

"“People still count us out, call us the underdogs, leave us out of the conversation.”"

I understand DeRozan’s frustration and desire to be considered a top team in the East.

They did make it to the conference finals in 2016 but the Raptors have shown little ability to compete with the top teams in the playoffs over their last four seasons.

More from Raptors Rapture

They traded away a veteran to the Nets team and were embarrassed by the Wizards.

They weren’t competative against the Cavs the last two years.

Heading into the 2017-18 season the Raptors made tweaks but did not dramatically improve their roster. The teams above them have either stayed the same or in Boston’s case were noticeably improved.

So while DeRozan may be frustrated by the lack of recognition, I think this could be good for the Raptors because they will be able to play the underdog with a chip on their shoulder role and maybe sneak up on some people.

Practice what you preach

The main theme of DeRozan’s essay was to say that good teamwork both on and off the court is what it means to be a Raptor. He says the team has to be more than just him and Kyle Lowry.

TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 29: DeMar DeRozan /

"“Kyle and I are All-Stars. Yeah, we’re the faces of the team. But we can’t do it alone. Serge and Jonas are back. I’m looking forward to playing with C.J. We’ve got a lot of young guys who are looking for their chances to do something.Their time will come. But it won’t come alone. We’re in this together.”"

Much of DeRozan’s essay seemed to be about what it means to be a Raptor off the court. I am sure this is an important part of building a team but with a roster that has been relatively intact for the last few years I would hope they’d be close to figuring that part out already.

The success of this team could well be determined by the effectiveness of their teamwork and I would just like to see them emphasize it on the court.

DeMar DeRozan has had great individual success over the last few years but it may benefit the team for him to step back and become a more willing passer.

This would produce a more diverse and consistent Raptors  offense and get more people involved.

The main talking point by Masai Ujiri this offseason was the Raptors need for a culture reset.

This didn’t come in the form of a coaching change or much of a roster shake-up. I expect it’ll manifest itself on the court.

DeRozan has always come across as a team-first guy but now his play needs to show it.

He should heed his own advice of teamwork and play a more team-friendly brand of basketball this season.