Any Raptors fan who has paid any attention the last few weeks knows how utterly disappointing DeMar DeRozan has been.
After starting the season with an eyebrow-raising performance through six games that saw him and Andrea Bargnani, the league’s best defender, form one of the NBA’s highest scoring duos, DeRozan’s game has flown South faster than a Canada Goose.
Remember, this is a guy who picked it up big time over the second half of the 2010-2011 season and was dropping 20-points plus on a regular basis as a 21-year-old. So when he appeared to have added a three-point shot and extra range to his offensive game and then seemed to start the 2011-2012 season right where he left off last year, a lot of NBA fans and analysts thought this could be a real break-out season for DeRozan.
While that can certainly still happen over the next three months and 49 games, it becomes less likely with every four-of-19 performance and each passing day.
Just like his meteoric rise grabbed some attention from around the Association, DeRozan’s equally fast fall is attracting plenty of eyeballs too.
Today, ESPN Insider John Hollinger rightfully named DeMar to his first quarter All-Disappointment Team. Here’s what Hollinger had to write about DeRozan:
“Remember all those positive stories the first week of the season about DeRozan’s improved 3-point stroke? That went away fast, huh? DeRozan is indeed shooting slightly better on 3s (12-for-38 after making a total of nine in his first two pro seasons).
Unfortunately for the Raptors, he’s only making 39.2 percent of his 2s, and for a player whose only redeeming quality is shot creation, that’s a major problem. DeRozan’s PER has slipped nearly five points in what was supposed to be his breakout year; in additional to the shooting woes, he’s turning the ball over more and passing it less than ever.”
Just how bad has DeRozan’s performance been over the last few weeks? He went from 18.5 points on 47.6 per cent shooting (10-of-16 from three-point range) in his first six games to 12.6 points on a disastrous 32.9 per cent shooting (two-of-22) in his last 11 contests. In addition, a notoriously poor ball handler, DeMar turned the ball over 10 times in those first six games. Since then, he’s turned it over 28 times in 11 games.
As a whole, DeRozan’s recent slump brings his season averages to 14.8 points on 38 per cent shooting and 31.6 per cent three-point shooting, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.2 turnovers. From his sophomore season to this season so far, his scoring is down, his overall shooting is down, his rebounding and assists are slightly down, and his turnover rate is noticeably up.
One positive sign that DeRozan may finally be committing to attacking the basket to get out of this funk comes in the form of his free throw attempts. After totaling just 17 attempts in a five-game span, DeMar has gone to the line 18 times over his last two games. He’s going to have to continue to stay aggressive if he wants to start getting calls and scoring on a consistent basis again.
It’s still too early to be panicking about DeRozan. After all, he was born in 1989 and still has plenty of time to develop his overall game. His struggles are being magnified right now because with Bargnani out, DeMar is being asked to be the lead scorer, and he has shown an inability to be that guy.
Having said that, I also think it’s foolish to simply sweep the last three weeks under the rug just because DeMar is young. At the end of the day, he has to realize that he is being both counted on and promoted as one of the building blocks of this franchise’s future. Be aggressive, get to the free throw line, be a little more selective with your shot-selection, make defence a priority and contribute in other facets of the game. It sounds like a lot, but DeRozan’s slowly getting to a point where his age and inexperience can no longer be an excuse.
DeMar DeRozan has the potential to be a complete player and one of those aforementioned legitimate franchise building blocks for the Raptors, but right now, his game has too many holes for it to happen over night.
I just wonder at what point this “slump” stops being considered a simple slump, and just gets chalked up to a forgettable, wasted season in DeRozan’s development.