photo by Nida Alibhai

A third quarter performance in a game where the Raptors lost was another example of why I believe in DeMar DeRozan.

Playing the entire quarter of the Raptors’ 120-110 loss to the Lakers, DeRozan made six of his seven field-goal attempts and also went to the free-throw line seven times, connecting on all of his attempts. He scored 19 points in 12 minutes and provided the team with the scoring they needed with Andrea Bargnani out of the lineup.

After that 19-point quarter against Kobe Bryant’s Lakers, the former attendee of Bryant’s basketball camp received some praise from the five-time NBA champion.

“I love DeMar,” Bryant said after the game. “I have known him for a long time, obviously with him coming to my camps and things like that…I think he did a great job. He just needs to continue to work on his game, continue to work on his jumpshot and I think he’ll be fine.”

Many Raptors fans, though, are wondering if they should be thinking otherwise.

Why can’t he put together a full game, even a couple of quarters like this each game? Why does he seem to have a great game followed by a handful of average games?

DeRozan is a 21 year old who was drafted after a sensational Pac-10 tournament. He was drafted more on future potential than his ability to perform now. Would he have benefited by staying in school another year, developing his ball handling and improving his shot? Perhaps, but that’s no longer reality. His reality was an opportunity to ride the wave of that buzz he was getting after winning the MVP award from the Pac-10 tournament and make his childhood dream come true while also making the lives of his family members –including his mother who suffers from lupus– a lot easier.

How many of us wouldn’t do the exact same and jump at the chance to make a lot of things easier? If you think you would play things safe and take the cautious route, I’ll bet that you already have health care and have not spent some of your teenage years watching your mother in pain as she makes sure to make it to each and every one of your basketball games to support you.

DeRozan is now a starting shooting guard in the NBA. In his second season, his handles need to be better. He should be hitting open shots with more regularity. He has to learn to stop having those stretches where he stands around the three-point line on offense, being a spectator. Sometimes he drives into traffic without really knowing where he’s going or what he’s going to do. Other times he gets stripped in the open court.

This is the bad.

DeRozan is young and he works hard. He asks for help. He takes criticism from his coaching staff and suggestions from his teammates. There is no ego, sense of entitlement or assumption that he knows what’s best. DeRozan knows better than anybody how inconsistent he has been and how many things he has to improve on. He’s working on his jumper, slowly becoming more of a willing passer, starting to attack the rim more and is beginning to learn how to force refs into give him calls. He’s a tremendous athlete with lots to learn and so much more room to grow.

This is the good.

As frustrating as it can be to wonder why he can’t piece these brilliant quarters, games and glimpses of this great potential together, it would be even more frustrating to have a young player with the talent but without a solid head on his shoulders. If I’m taking potential, I want potential that is likely to be realized. With DeRozan’s work ethic, a solid support system around him and a maturity beyond his years, he’s got everything he needs to develop into a solid player.

I don’t always agree with NBA players. This time, though, I’m going to side with Bryant.

Comments (9)

  1. he’s got a bright future. Any time the greatest basketball player in the world praises you like that, you know you have a bright future. But as Kobe said, he has to work hard and fix that inconsistent jump shot.

  2. Demar will be a great player. He’s the main reason why I watch raptors games. I know there are a lot if people who agree with me. We want to see him excel. He has it in him, but I think he needs to believe in himself more. It has to come from within. Be one with the raptor that you are. Fierce, aggressive, and agile. Embrace it. Believe it. Channel it.

    Wow I’m a philosopher now. Haha.

  3. i get kind of annoyed when people expect so much of him at this stage of his career. He is an athletic wing that is still raw in some aspects and thats how it will be for a while yet.

    Some players just take longer to naturally expand their game. I think DeMar is sort of a late bloomer in that sense, and we won’t see what type of player he can truly be for years.

    Will he be a superstar? I don’t know. But he will be a great player eventually because he has a solid work ethic and already is a phenomenal athlete.. I don’t think he is just a desmond mason type to only be able to dunk. I can tell by the way he moves on the court that he’s going to be a great player someday, even though that might sound weird lol.

    He’s my favourite raptor, and he seems like a great guy off the court as well. I think it’s telling that Kobe would say something like that, because Kobe can probably sense how badly he wants to be great. Real recognize real and Kobe seems to have alot of faith in DeMar as well.

  4. There are few people who take a sound bite from a professional athlete who has been handling the hacks in the media for YEARS as anything but an insipid sound bite, but you’ll probably find those people in Toronto where the love for mediocrity never dies.

    DeMar is a friend of his, what exactly did you THINK he was going to say?

  5. ….a “great system”???? You mean the coach that has steadily dragged the team downwards, with or without “All-Star” caliber talent??
    You mean the system that drafted Davis and Alabi, two players who clearly are not NBA ready yet who actually WHINE about a brief stint in the D-League??
    You mean the system that has drafted, signed, traded players that inevitably end up being moved within a year or are out of the NBA??
    There IS no system…there are a bunch of passive-aggressive politikers who plug in players and hope they will overcome a complete lack of identity, toughness and discipline from the “system”.
    You want to see a “great system” look at the Jazz, Spurs, Celtics, Lakers and now the Thunder….no one in the NBA is watching anything that happens here so you are left with idiot shills who sell you mediocrity because they need to keep you interested.

  6. Great comments Nunya, why are you bothering to comment here or waste your valuable time watching the Toronto Raptors.

  7. DeRozan, at 21 a rookie with 1 yrs experience, is the Raptors second leading scorer at 12.8 PPG, with a brilliant future, and unlimited potential to excel with continued committment to improve, to be the best he can be.

    Today he is amongst all SG on 30 NBA teams led by Kobe:
    19th in MPG
    18th in FG%
    17th in PPG
    7th in FTA
    8th in FTM

  8. I just want to see Derozan blow by the first defender. He doesn’t seem to have that type of quickness or handle. When he is able to do that, he has to jump with more emphasis, hang, draw contact and finish, or just finish if no one is contesting. When he is able to use his physical tools in combination with real basketball moves, he can get to the line alot, or draw double and pass out. i don’t think he wil ever stretch it out to the three, but thats alright if you can blow by and attack relentlessly like wade has done over the years. Wade now has the three going, but he was doing damage in his early years without any type of a jumpshot. The reason–crazy handle with speed. euro two step ability, fearless, and strength. older too.

  9. Nunya…the “great system” of the Jazz will produce nothing this year, the Lakers’ “system” has had a couple guys named Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson to work with (and they almost lost Kobe a few seasons ago), the Spurs system has had the greatest PF of all time for 10 years, and the Celtics were at the bottom of the Titanic Division for a lot longer than they’ve been on top of it. Your oversimplified cynicism is boring. Say something interesting (“MLSE sucks!!!” doesn’t count, even if you type it all in caps)..

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