We’re going to handle preseason player profiles differently this year on RaptorBlog. For each player on the 2012-13 Raptors’ active roster, Joseph Casciaro and I are going to email our thoughts back and forth and then post the resulting conversation on the blog. It’s an edgy new form of journalism! Or something…

DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, 6’7″, 216 lbs.
2011-12 stats: 63 games, 35.0 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 42.2 FG%, 26.1 3P%, 81.0 FT%, 12.8 PER

Scott: It’s time to discuss the Raptors’ “golden boy”, DeMar DeRozan. I get accused of being a hater because I don’t regard DeRozan with the same level of esteem as most Raptors fans do. The way I see it, if I blindly accept that DeRozan’s going to be a future All-Star while overlooking the multiple flaws in his game, I’m no different than the type of fans that I’ve wasted for too much time arguing with on the Internet.

Here’s what I see with DeRozan: He does exactly two things well — dunking and getting to the free throw line. There’s a perception among his fans that he’s a good mid-range shooter, but he made just 38 percent of his shots between 10 and 15 feet from the basket last season and he had a 35 percent success rate on shots from 16 to 23 feet away. It’s nice that he’s trying to add a three-point shot to his arsenal, but he’ll need to shoot a lot better than 26 percent from that range for it to be a good idea to keep jacking up treys.

The Raptors had the second-worst offense in the NBA last season in terms of efficiency, scoring just 100.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s likely to happen when the player who takes 385 more field goal attempts than any other player on your team makes such a low percentage of those shots. Maybe a healthy Bargnani will reduce him to a secondary scoring role — otherwise, I fear the Raptors’ offense will continue to struggle and they’ll almost certainly miss the playoffs again.

Joseph: Based on what we’ve seen from DeRozan so far, the only way he’ll get to an All Star game is if he puts up a big scoring average and the fact that he did it inefficiently goes unnoticed, but I’m not counting on it.

I expect to see an improved DeRozan when the 2012-13 season tips off, but he’s going to have to be much improved in most areas of the game if he’s going to be worth a raise as a restricted free agent next summer. That means he has to score more efficiently, become a more consistent defender, rebound the ball better, handle the ball better and make smarter decisions with the ball in his hands.

Fans are fixated on his athleticism, and I won’t deny still being intrigued by what kind of ceiling an athlete like DeMar has, but I also can’t overlook the fact that three years in, he’s still not much more than an “athlete,” and if that’s all he is after year four, then the brief DeRozan era in Toronto will likely come to an end.

The drafting of Terrence Ross may not have been done solely for the purpose of pushing or replacing DeMar, but you can bet it makes DeRozan a hell of a lot more expendable.

Scott: It’s worth pointing out that DeRozan is just 23 years old so it’s not like he’s reached the standard “prime years” yet. The problem is that I just haven’t seen much improvement in his game over the past two seasons. I can appreciate that he tried to add a mid-range game in his second season and then a three-point shot last season, but are you really “adding” anything positive when you can’t hit those shots with any kind of consistency?

With the extra offensive weapons on this year’s roster, I’m hoping DeRozan won’t feel the need to force up as many contested 18-foot shots as he did last season. I’d like to see his assists and free throw attempts go up while his overall field goal attempts go down. If he can average 15 points and three assists on 45 percent shooting while getting to the line over six times per game, I would see that as real progress and a sign that he could be a valuable part of this franchise’s future.

Joseph: He definitely hasn’t reached those peak years yet, he was very raw coming out of his freshman season at USC and I understand that there’s still time for him to develop, but I thought he would be a more promising young player at this point, especially after the way he finished his sophomore season in 2010-11.

That year, he ranked seventh among shooting guards in scoring, and of the top-25, he ranked fifth in field goal percentage (though his .530 true shooting percentage still left much to be desired). After two seasons, he looked like one of the more promising young two-guards (on the offensive end) in the league. But last year, despite actually jumping to fifth in scoring at his position, his true shooting percentage dropped to .503, and he looked more like a quintessential young chucker.

I don’t doubt his desire to improve or his work ethic, but I’m beginning to doubt whether or not he has the fundamental basketball skills to even become a second tier star. And I’m not saying he has to develop into a star to have a long and successful NBA career, but if he’s just going to be a solid rotation player, I can’t see the Raptors exactly jumping at the opportunity to lock him up long-term.

Perhaps that’s the reason to be most encouraged about DeRozan heading into 2012-13 though, as for all intents and purposes, he’s playing for his first big NBA contract, and if that doesn’t bring out the best in him, I don’t know what will.

Scott: Everything I’ve heard about DeRozan indicates that he’s had a consistently strong work ethic throughout his NBA career, so I don’t see how a contract year is going to make him work even harder. Is he going to give 110 percent this season?

I actually like DeRozan and I would love to see him take a leap forward this season both for his own sake and for the benefit of the Raptors. I just think his fans need to manage their expectations about the upper limits of his potential, in that the chances of him being a 20 points per game scorer on a winning team are somewhere between slim and none. If Dwane Casey can get him to play solid defense, to defer to his teammates more on the offensive end, and to not be so much of a black hole when he gets the ball on the elbow or the wing, then I’ll embrace him as a part of this team’s future.

Joseph: I’d say most pro athletes with a reputable work ethic go about 95%, but think they’re going full throttle. They then come to know what full throttle really means when they’re suddenly playing for a contract.

Getting back on topic, his unwavering supporters really do believe DeRozan has superstar potential, which I don’t understand. But his harshest critics seem to believe that if he’s not going to be that star, he’s a worthless waste of space, which also isn’t fair for a 23-year-old work in progress who has had some moments of brilliance. One thing I harped on at various points last season was that the Raptors don’t need DeMar to be some sort of savior (save that for Jonas). But with Terrence Ross on board now and other young players ahead of DeRozan in the organization’s plans, I do wonder just how good he’ll have to be this season to assure himself a future in Toronto.

One thing he probably has going for him is the lack of young star power at the two-guard position. If you look at the crop of top-tier shooting guards right now, most of them are slowly beginning to regress and are on the wrong side of 30, and other than James Harden and maybe Eric Gordon, I don’t see a young player that looks ready to take the torch from Kobe, D.Wade, Manu, or even Joe Johnson. So maybe if DeRozan has a breakout year, he and his agent can sell the Raptors on the fact that he has the potential to be one of the better players at his position going forward.

Comments (26)

  1. Scott summarized it well -we really haven’t seen an improvement over the last two season’s so why expect anything more.

    Lets hope we got a late bloomer, he is still 23.

  2. Good analysis.

    Demar used 18.6 possessions last year (using FGA + .44*TOV + TOV) to get his 16.7ppg. The problem is he is not the caliber of offensive player to be using that amount of possessions on a great team.

    To use two recent examples, OJ Mayo averaged 18.5ppg and 17.5ppg his first two years, but has dropped to 11.3ppg and 12.6ppg the two after. What happened? Surely his skills didn’t evaporate. It was possessions. In order of his seasons they’ve been 19.9, 17.9, 12.7, 14.2. From his sophmore season to his fourth year, his possessions dropped 21% and his ppg dropped 28%.

    Michael Beasley in 2011 to 2012 dropped from 21.6 possessions to 13.2, a drop of 39%, and his ppg dropped from 19.2ppg to 11.5, a drop of 40%.

    The problem for Demar is what happens if his possessions drops from 18.6 to say 13 a game, which is a 31% drop. An equal drop in his ppg would be from 16.7 to 11.5. The difference is significant. As with Mayo and Beasley, when players are dropping 16ppg+ that’s enough for them to be written in as “starters” and core pieces even if they’re inefficient. But nobody wants an 11ppg inefficient scorer who has no other impact on the game.

    That’s why if Demar wants to be a starting player in the league and not a 7th-9th man journeyman, he has to do one of these things

    a) Show he’s a talented enough scorer to take a large number of scoring possessions (18+) on a great team. I consider this somewhat unlikely, he just hasn’t shown enough to make me think he’s an all-star caliber scoring talent

    b) Add other elements to his game to be useful with lower possessions. A spot up 3 would be the best addition, to make him an efficient low usage option. The other option is to become a defense first wing, like Thabo and Brewer. This way even if he ends up scoring 10-12ppg he can add a valuable element to his team’s lineup

    If he becomes neither a 3pt shooter or a noted defensive specialist, I see little reason to believe Demar is getting starting minutes in the NBA long term instead of 7th-9th man bench player ones. Don’t be fooled by the 16.7ppg, in no way has he proven he’s more than a bench player yet.

  3. Terrence Ross made me realize how much we overrated Demar’s talent after the 2009 Draft. Ross is bigger than Demar, he’s more athletic/explosive than Demar, he has a 3pt shot, he can pass, he’s a better ball-handler than young Demar, and he has a more natural feel for the game and smoothness to him in general. He’s more talented and dynamic than Demar in every way. This is what a starting SG talent looks like.

    Demar was simply a very overrated talent coming out of 2009. The problem is he had a reputation from high school as an athletic phenom. Well he wasn’t. He’s a good athlete but he’s not a freak athlete like the Vinces and Kobes. The highest upside in the draft thing was silly, he’s not even a top 5 athlete in that draft. Secondly he was drafted as a 6’7 SF and he ended up being a 6’5 SG. Third is that there is a tendency in the draft to believe any unsculpted piece of rock can develop a multitude of skills when in reality many skills that NBA players end up having, they show in high school and college. Shooters and post players do it in college. Demar was hyped up because of his high school reputation, in the same way players like Mayo, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, etc. are. People love their high school stars and it takes a lot for them to shake the idea they built from that time period of a future star. There’s even still people who believe Mayo can break out just from his hype YEARS ago.

    Demar has a cool name, carries himself like a star, says all the right things and has a nice NBA bod. The problem is that this is like the scouts in Moneyball taking a player because he has the good face. It’s distracting from the truth. Eric Gordon has a boring name, pudgy face and doesn’t interview well and he’s awesome.

  4. The “he’s just x years old” argument only works when the player in question has actually showed some signs that he’s capable of improving his weaknesses. I just haven’t seen that from DeRozan whether it comes to his defense, his rebounding, his passing and his mid-range to long range shooting. Hoping for significant improvement in any of those well below average aspects of his game just seems like a pipedream even considering his age.

    Julian Rodger also brought up a point I’ve been harping on every time a DeRozan discussion pops up. Is he even capable of contributing when his possessions per game and shots per game go way down with Lowry and a healthy Bargnani? For a player who needs the ball so much to be effective in any capacity, it’s definitely not a good sign heading into the season.

  5. If his shot doesn’t come around, the thing that could be the equalizer for Demar this year is just more willingness to sacrifice his body. But he going to have to get over himself a bit. The way he grimaces and sloowwly gets up, then complains about the no call … are not good signs, but skill and body-wise seems like this should be his game. Plus the team needs a guy like that.

  6. Derozan’s biggest flaws in his game is the fact he has zero basketball IQ. Derozan has no idea what to do when the ball isnt in his hand. Same problems as John Wall he is an athlete who does not know how to play basketball. On offense he sits in the corner doesnt move doesnt know how to create for himself or others. Defensively he

  7. Derozan’s biggest flaws in his game is the fact he has zero basketball IQ. Derozan has no idea what to do when the ball isnt in his hand. Same problems as John Wall he is an athlete who does not know how to play basketball. On offense he sits in the corner doesnt move doesnt know how to create for himself or others. Defensively he is not very good, despite most raptor fans thinking otherwise. Derozan often cant stop watching the ball and lets easy cuts get to the basket. He plays with no physicality and is soft.

  8. Did the raptors really sign jaamal magloire???im tired of the GM , who would really waste anymore money on that guy??does no one want to sign to toronto?? if thats the case he should let the fans no SMH

    • you do realize that the Raps have a lot of cap space still, right… re-signing Jaamal wasn’t a big deal because he wont cost them a lot of space, and he’s a vetran big man to beat up on the other bigs in practice, and oh by the way, a leader as well… so i realy don’t see the problem here………

    • He’s being signed to an non-guaranteed contract and if he makes the team, will probably be the 14th or 15th man. There are certainly a lot of reasons to criticize Colangelo, but signing a veteran center who is a great lockerroom guy to a minimum deal certainly isn’t one of them.

  9. People saying that DeMar hasn’t improved at all are being ridiculous. He went from having one of the worst 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history to a fairly respectable % in one off-season, including shooting 40% from the corners in 2011-2012(per NBA.com). He was also regarded as the primary option for the majority of this year (which will not be expected of him going forward with Lowry/healthy Bargs to take away some of the pressure) in an offence which the team was learning on the fly due to the lockout. He is not particularly adept at creating his own shot, and without someone spreading the floor or helping him out he struggles.

    Now don’t get me wrong, his handles leave a lot to be desired, and his rebounding/assists will have to increase, but I truly believe that he made strides on the defensive end at the ladder part of last season and he can be a contributing starter on a playoff team moving forward.

    • Actually, DeRozan went from having a bad three point percentage in his rookie season, to historically bad last season, back to bad last year. He didn’t improve, but just went back to where he was in his rookie season.

  10. The hope I have for DeRozan’s improvement is based on his splits last year. Post all-star break last year he put up 17.8ppg/3.2rpg/2/3apg/.434fg%/.189 3p%/ 1.5TO.

    That’s not far off from Scott’s stated definition of success. Compared to the first half, he shot a higher percentage, shot 1/2 as many threes, cut turnovers by about a third, increased assists by about a third. He also has pretty dramatic home/road splits, which makes me think the crowd’s energy really affects his game – that’s not ideal, but in any case, maybe the intensity Lowry is said to bring will help DeMar keep up his energy away from home.

    It’s pure speculation, but my impression was DeMar had a tough time adjusting to the demands Casey placed on him, but came around toward the end of the year. The hope, as it were, is that with on offseason of work, coming back with expectations in line with Casey, he’ll progress more readily in this system.

    With that said, the caveats about how long he’s already been in the league still apply. I wouldn’t be shocked if he treads water and eventually sees his playing time cut.

  11. DD isn’t a worthless waste of space, but he clearly isn’t a starting quality SG either. Way too many holes in his game. Hopefully having Ross on the team pushes him to improve and plug those holes. I see DD as a good second team SG for the rest of his career – and pray that BC does as well – and pays him as such in his next contract. It is critical that Ross shows that he is the future SG for this team before BC sits down to discuss an extension with DD’s agent.

  12. Great Blog guys.

    Raps fans need to chill out:

    Hes a 23 yr old 6′”7 SG!? Listen to that. Do you know anybody that is 6″7? How do they dribble? Of course his handles need work, that being said he still drives to the rim consistanly. Remember the time when all the Raps had was chuckers and we all wanted a young wing that could drive the lane?

    When Bosh was here you guys said the same thing when he was this age…”his jump shot needs work…Hes a black hole” All logical arguments mind you; but the guy is 23 !!! Your basketball prime (unless your a super star) is 25-28.

    He gets to the line A LOT.

    When he gains ‘man weight’ (just like Bosh did) he will be a good player.

    Jump shots develop over time, its also one of the easiest elements to add to your game(if you have decent form).

    • Bosh had already developed a solid mid-range game by the time he was DeRozan’s age. He was 22 years old in his 2006-07 season and averaged 22 points per game on 49 percent shooting. Comparing DeRozan to Bosh is absurd.

      • Valid point Scott, but my goal wasn’t to compare Bosh’s stregthss to Derozan’s weaknesses. (In my opinion Bosh started his outside game then developed driving to the rim as oppossed to DD)

        Its was to illustrate that some, if not most players reach their prime at a later age than 23.

        Love the Blog.

        • I konw Chris Bosh, I’ve seen him play. DeRozan is no Chris Bosh.

        • When Bosh was 23, he already had fairly solid fundamentals. He could score, shoot from mid range, rebound and had pretty good defensive instincts.

          DeRozan, at 23, has almost no fundamental skills.

          If DeRozan had stayed until his senior year and just came out with the skills he currently had, how do you think he would be received? A senior with below average defense, shot, rebounding skills, handles and basketball IQ?

          Terrence Ross played only two seasons of college ball, has similar athleticism, but is a better defender, shooter, ball handler, rebounder and has a higher basket IQ. He was drafted 9th and was considered by most to be a reach.

          I’m not saying we need to give up on him, but the fact that he has developed so little in three full years, averaging 30 mpg, has got to be a HUGE red flag. Especially considering it’s obviously not for lack of hard work.

          • Sort of why I think we should trade him now while he has value and see if Ross can fill the hole, just because if he doesn’t improve this year than I don’t know if we can get anything really good for him.

  13. My hope is that DD can develop into a pretty efficient scorer (someone like prime Kevin Martin), with at least decent D. He really needs to improve his ball handling and jumper to get there, though. As others have said, if he can’t be an efficient scorer, what else is he contributing? The one thing that I think is positive is that he’s shown he can get to the line and that’s without much of a handle. His mid-range game looked better to me in his second season but I don’t have stats backing that up.

    It’s just too bad because he has the body and athleticism to do so much more (attacking the rim more effectively, rebounding, shot blocking) but the progress hasn’t been impressive at all since his rookie year. I’m actually encouraged that the brass looks like they’re prepared to let him go if he doesn’t take a big next step, rather than invest a stupid amount of money in a guy so unproven.

  14. Considering the shortended season last year (short training camp and few practices), a new coach implementing a new defence first system, Bargnani’s injury, and the simple fact that the raptors were not a very deep team last season (or any of Demar’s years here), it’s easy to say he’s not improving or he’s not where he should be in his career at this point. He was primarily the first offensive option for most of the year, which is not fair to him, and i think justifies him chucking up so many shots. His development is relative to the terrible position this team has been in for so long.
    Enough with the stats. As a fan, I’m happy where this team is heading, and happy to have him on our squad. He has handled himself well, done all that has been asked of him, and is showing signs of improvement.
    All that being said, this is a HUGE year for him, and I do see him as an asset moving forward, whether we keep him or package him in a trade.

  15. Good point Joseph, contract year might do the trick


  17. If you can name another scorer on this team other than DeRozan and AB, I’ll be very happy to admit that yeah he hasn’t developed. Last year he was the go to man with AB down on injuries, plus had to make his own shoots, which forced him to chuck a lot of them up. He had flashes of brillance but what DeRozan need is consistancy. If the main player stay healthy, he can put up career numbers. But saying that he didn’t develop much bc of the stats really doesn’t show who he was. He was put into a leadership role while developing, and also had to introduce himself to new elments in order for the team to have a chance to win. Last season will only hasten his development and give him a better understanding of leadership and consistancy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *