On Thursday night, this video compilation put together by Andrew Moussa started gaining steam on twitter:
First off, the video is great. It was obviously well thought out, is well put together, and the choice of soundbites could motivate even the most pessimistic of DeRozan observers.
It could also motivate a Raptors blogger to write a few words on the fourth year swingman while there’s little else to discuss during the dog days of summer…
Do you feel a DeMar DeRozan post coming on? Me too.
Three years into his NBA career, DeRozan has established himself as an athletic scorer, but an overall one-dimensional player. His defence, while improved, is still sub-par. Considering his athletic advantage, he should rebound the ball at a higher rate. He’s been criticized for poor ball handling, not passing enough and his .503 true shooting percentage last season ranked 54th out of 83 qualified shooting guards.
The last time we saw DeMar DeRozan on an NBA court, he was an exciting young player with potential, but a young player who still had plenty of holes in his game. That “potential” simply boils down to his freak athleticism, but if he doesn’t prove to be more than just an athlete through four seasons, he’ll be nothing more than a guy, and the Raptors already have plenty of those. What the franchise needs is somebody to step up and be the guy, and whether they would admit it or not, most of us assume there was a time that the organization believed DeRozan had that in him.
I don’t believe DeMar needs to be a superstar to be worth keeping around as the Raptors rebuild moves forward, but he unquestionably needs to evolve into a complete basketball player if he’s going to be worth any semblance of a financial commitment next summer.
DeRozan will be a restricted free agent after the coming season (assuming the Raptors extend the $4.5 million qualifying offer for 2013-14), and while a desperate General Manager will surely pay him based on the aforementioned “potential” and scoring numbers alone, DeRozan stands to earn a sizable raise, likely in Toronto, if he can become the complete player we all covet. Whether he was already thinking about it heading into the off-season or whether he was made abreast of the situation by an astute agent, I’m sure DeMar’s well aware of that financial opportunity by now.
Then there’s the issue of the fellow shooting guard/wing player the Raptors just drafted eighth overall, Terrence Ross.
As Scott, Oliver and I discussed on Draft night, in terms of fundamentals, Ross is the better pure basketball player. He’s a more natural shooter, a better ball handler, a better defender, a better rebounder and a better passer.
And while DeRozan has three years of NBA experience on him, Ross is actually only a year-and-a-half younger than DeMar and is much more polished than DeRozan was coming out of college (Ross spent an extra year in the NCAA). If DeRozan doesn’t show off an improved and more complete game when camp opens and the season begins in October, I don’t think it will take Ross as long to move up the depth chart as others believe.
So DeRozan hasn’t proven himself to be a complete player yet, he’ll probably be up for a new contract next summer and a younger, potentially better option was just drafted. At this point, you might be asking why DeRozan is even worth getting excited about anymore.
The simple answer is that he only just turned 23-years-old earlier this month, he genuinely seems to want to improve and is willing to work to improve, and he seems to enjoy representing Toronto. As pathetic as it sounds to admit, that perceived appreciation for playing North of the border has become an obsession for our attention starved fan base, and that makes a player like DeRozan easy to root for.
In addition, no matter how high your expectations of DeRozan were, most knew that the No. 9 pick in 2009 was coming into the Association as a very raw athlete. He was expected to get by on athleticism alone through the early stages of his career and was supposed to build up the basketball fundamentals along the way.
To be fair, his development has probably gone according to script thus far, as I don’t know many prospects dubbed as “raw athletes” that evolve into stars within their first three professional seasons. Of course, for Raptors fans desperate for that elusive star, patience isn’t an easy virtue to practice.
Well now he’s going into his fourth NBA season, he’s been under a defensive-minded coach for a full year, he spent parts of the summer in a great basketball environment playing against the U.S. Olympic team, and he’s got a contract to play for.
Add it all up, and the ingredients for a true breakout season are there. Room for excuses, though, is not.
The uplifting ending to the video compilation that started this post teases that perhaps this might finally be the year for DeMar. The thing is, for DeRozan, this has to be the year, and I think he knows that.
Working my ass off! Got a lot to prove this season.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) July 20, 2012
With that, I can finally get back to whatever it was I was doing before I came across Moussa’s video-making skills on my timeline.
UPDATE: Thanks to Drew Fairservice for passing this along, an SI.com column by Zach Lowe on Friday further outlines DeRozan’s lack of passing. In a critique of Toronto’s wing-passing (or lack thereof) last season, Lowe mentions Leandro Barbosa and DeRozan. Here’s what he has to say about DeMar:
“DeRozan recorded assists on just three percent of his 121 recorded drives, one of the half-dozen lowest figures in the sample.”
Lowe later continues: “The Raptors have long been waiting for DeRozan, also extension-eligible now, to emerge as a more savvy creator. The data suggest they are still waiting.”
Hopefully this serves only as motivation for DeRozan to improve that facet of his game.