Given that DeMar DeRozan sent Raptors fans into a frenzy last night by nailing the team’s first game-winning buzzer beater in over six years, and the fact that his four-year, $38 million extension signed at the beginning of the season was highly criticized, it’s probably a good time to take a look at DeRozan’s numbers at the midway point of the season.

The basic numbers paint an impressive portrait for the 23-year-old fourth-year swingman, especially when compared to other listed shooting guards in the NBA, and that lack of depth at the shooting guard position after the elite group at the top (most of which is aging outside of James Harden) is one reason why supporters thought DeMar could live up to the contract, which kicks in next season.

DeRozan is sixth among qualifying shooting guards in scoring at 17.3 points per game and his 43.9 field goal percentage is actually better than two (James Harden and Joe Johnson) of the five shooting guards ahead of him in scoring. In addition, he’s sixth in rebounds per game at the two-spot, fifth in minutes per game and fourth in free throws attempted per game, behind only Harden, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade.

Of course, we’ve learned over the years that those basic numbers can often paint just as misleading a portrait as an impressive one, and a big part of DeRozan’s impressive ranks in some of those areas have to do with his minutes and his overall opportunity to be one of the main offensive options on an underwhelming team. Once we dive into the advanced metrics, it quickly becomes evident that DeMar’s improvements aren’t as drastic as some Raptors fans want to believe (a lot of that has to do with his near month-long slump in January).

DeRozan’s so-so PER of 14.21 is 24th among shooting guards that log at least 20 minutes per game, and his underwhelming true shooting percentage of .513 is a disappointing 44th among 66 listed two-guards. Not to mention that his rebound rate is 20th among twos (Terrence Ross is a better rebounder by rate) and his assist percentage of 9.9 is actually down from 10.8 last season (though anyone who’s watched DeMar distribute the ball this season knows his overall court vision has definitely improved, especially on his attacks to the rim, where he now regularly looks for open teammates when double-teams come as opposed to attacking with a tunnel vision approach).

None of those advanced stats are to say that DeRozan is having a bad year, but again, they certainly indicate that his improvements may be slightly exaggerated and that those perceived improvements might have a lot to do with an inflated role on a bad young team. Then again, perhaps the fact that he’s getting this opportunity to be a near No. 1 option will enhance his development, as for example, I highly doubt he would have made the aforementioned strides in his court vision if not for the amount of times the ball has been put in his hands over the last couple of years.

Overall, there’s no doubt that we’ve seen an improved and more polished DeMar DeRozan this season, but those improvements have been minor in most areas and the season still filled with inconsistencies in his performances from month to month, week to week, game to game and even quarter to quarter.

His clutch fourth quarter performance in Orlando (Beyond the actual buzzer-beater, DeRozan scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the fourth, including eight points on 4-of-4 shooting in the final 2:48 alone) against a good defender in Arron Afflalo could be just the kind of “monkey off the back” performance DeRozan needed to reinvigorate what was looking like a breakout season before the new year, but Raptors fans should remain cautious with their optimism until DeMar starts stringing together a slew of impressive performances again and proves he can become a $9.5 million player consistently.

It’s not his fault he was given that pay raise, and he really is reputed to be one of the hardest working young players in the league, but rightly or wrongly, that “9.5″ number will be DeRozan’s blessing and curse until he finds said consistency.

Comments (27)

  1. I too hope this was the game to get him playing the way he was earlier in the season but my gut feeling is that it’s only a matter of time before T.Ross steals his job.

  2. I’m not sure why Derozan is so polarizing for Raptors fans. He’s young, he’s a hard worker, he’s one of the primary scoring options on a team with below-average talent, and he gets promoted by the franchise more than a player of his caliber typically would because, again, he’s one of the primary options on a below average team. Everyone knows this – including management, the coaching staff, and BC. I think it’s primarily the fans (both his supporters and his haters) who are getting carried away with the impact of DD as a player and as a contract.

    I’m fine with watching him develop. He got his contract a little early, but it’s not unreasonable. Go check out an NBA salaries list and you’ll see he’ll be making similar money to Rodney Stuckey, Mo Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Stephen Jackson, etc. Derozan is already better than half the guys in his price range, and he’s still 23. If he improves and contributes and is worth keeping, then keep him. If he’s surpassed by T-Ross or the franchise takes another direction, then trade him. He is certainly not immovable, he’s worth keeping around, and he could easily be a key piece in a trade package.

    Again, he’s being promoted because he’s a bright spot on the current roster, not because the franchise is married to him. BC has shown he’s more than willing to pull the trigger on trades of anyone not named Andrea.

    • Hes polarizing because the front office has labelled him a core player when fans such as myself have vehemently disagreed. He has improved a little this year but many of his stats are inflated because he plays so many minutes which he quite frankly, hasn’t earned. As well, to be honest, I dont see how much more he can improve. He is what he is. Raptors should have drafted jrue holiday in hindsight but many other teams could say the same.

      • He’s only labelled as a core player because the roster is bad, not because they think he’s Toronto’s Dwayne Wade. They’re paying him $9 mil/year, which is in the range of Danilo Gallinari, Stephen Jackson, and Andris Bierdrins. It is not a franchise player contract, or even a perennial all-star contract. It’s a “pretty good guy” contract.

        Don’t you think the franchise would be more than happy to anoint a more talented player as a “core guy” and pay him $5/6 mil more per year than DD? I don’t doubt that for a second – they just don’t have anybody who’s much better than DD, that’s all….

        • You keep mentioning players with bad contracts as a reason why DeRozan’s contract isn’t bad.

          And while I’ve always liked DeRozan and love the fact he’s such a hard worker, he’s really not all that good a player. He’s only a pretty good scorer, but not when the defense is keyed on him, and scoring is his best attribute. He’s still a below average defender and he does really nothing that would suggest he’d either make a good star player or role player on a good team.

          Unfortunately, at this point, he’s looking like one of those guys who only gets the stats he does because he plays on a bad team. On a better team, he simply doesn’t have the skills to have much of a role.

  3. This post feels like the beginning of something… is it?
    How about a more focused comparison with other 2 guards who play +/- 5 mpg? or per/36? I don’t feel like comparing DD to someone who plays 20 mpg is particularly valuable.
    How about a look, using advanced metrics, at how some similar players have aged?
    Basketball-reference seems poorly suited to this – his top comparables are mostly guards who started later than him, and were out the league in 5 years.

    • @lexomatic –
      I’m a huge fan of supporting points by stats/comparisons and numbers – however, there is such a thing is too many stats – too much information – “Comparison stats” only go so far in this debate. So many “differences” that can’t be be put into the necessary stats needed for your request and because of these variables – your request you ask for would not render useful – wouldn’t really prove or support anything because of the neglected factors that can’t be measured or compared for the benefit of your argument – DD has to be measured by players yes, but then it’s many other things that decide the final answer, more stats not covering specifics aren’t needed . The author’s examples were just that examples to make a theoretical point – the rest is up to many other factors. The authors comparisons (IMO) weren’t meant for the end all or only measuring stick in this debate but as one point. I agree I like stats and numbers but for what your asking for isn’t helpful enough to make the decision on whether DD is worthy of his contract!

  4. I didn’t like the contract at the time it was given, and I hate it even more now.

    This is the same problem that I have notice a lot of fans have with DeMar. They look at his PPG, APG, RPG, and THINK he has improved. But then at the same time, don’t pay attention at all to anything else like MPG, or advanced stats to show that his improvement has been minimal at best.

    I agree, it’s not his fault that he was given an extension. But, as of now no one should be saying that this was a good deal until he proves otherwise. It’s starting to look like another really bad contract that we’re stuck with for the time being.

    Thanks again, Colangelo.

    • It really hurts knowing the other guy the raptors were considering when they drafted derozan was holiday. He is a MUCH better player who is more productive in all facets. Derozan plays a shit tonne of minutes and produces at an average rate at best.

      • Holiday would probably be riding the bench behind Calderon.

        • @ PBI

          “Holiday would probably be riding the bench behind Calderon”….what!???…..hahahahahahahahahahaha – funny dude….that’s a good one. Now please lets stop fooling around with comedic comments and get back to this good conversation.

  5. Fot those that think the contract is premature:

    You are being narrow minded, think about other teams.

    Some team like Minny or det would offer him 12 mill this offseason.( due to supply and demand)

    The raps are in no position to take that gamble.

    Ohh Toronto….you don t know what you got till its gone.

    • If a team was going to offer him $12M this offseason, than let them.

      The fact that Colangelo handed out the contract after drafting Ross (someone who will probably be better than DeRozan), and before DeMar had a chance to prove he was worth it, just adds to why this was a bad contract.

    • This is the same argument some people made when Colangelo gave Bargnani his current contract. You don’t give a mediocre player (and unfortunately that’s what he is, despite the fact he’s a hard worker) a $9 million per contract just because another team is stupid enough to do the same.

      When you’re a lottery team, you can’t start overpaying mediocre talent because you won’t have enough to pay the real talent if and when it comes.

    • other people are being narrow minded, while you argue points you made up out of thin air?

      It also doesn’t matter what another team would offer, Toronto isn’t forced to match it. Plus they could have traded him this season much easier without that 9+ mil a year for 4 years deal creeping up.

      But much like Bargnani – Raptor fans don’t know what they’ve got even while they are watching it fail.

      • If you do research on sg in the nba
        And match that with supply and demand you will see that my argument is not made out of thin air.

        It’s called market value.

        By the way, the extension kicks in next season so the numbers dd is putting up this year makes him one of the cheapest/productive players int the nba.

        • SG is probably the least important position on the team, quite frankly. A guy who can defend and hit the open shot is really all you need, and Terrence Ross can do that. Either you’ve got an All Star or you don’t. If you don’t, don’t pay him like one, and that’s what the Raptors have done.

    • @Tee

      “you don’t know what you got till its gone”….great John Lennon quote! I’ll take those all day!

  6. I don’t agree with the criticism of DD’s contract. This kid can go off on any team on any night but lacks consistency. This is typical of young players. There are other ways of deciding whether the contract was worthwhile. If most would agree that a top 3 or 4 SGis worth 9 Mil a year. In fact I think many would agree to a 15 Mil. level. So essentially BC is betting that front loading the extension will pay off at the end of the contract where if DD improves he has a bargain.
    To me the litmus test of the signing is “will he improve?”. I think he will. The article shows where he places in the league and as he gets more experience and maturity he will get better. Amir is certainly better as is Ed, as will DD.

    • Ya but he’s not a top 3-4 SGs and the ones that are have multifaceted games. Demar court vision has improved but he’s still a fairly one dimensional scorer

  7. “It’s not his fault he was given that pay raise”

    what does this even mean? Is someone blaming Demar for taking a contract extension or pay raise? Does this justify him (or any player) underperforming his salaried expectations?

    Demar’s pay is Colangelo’s fault. That is obvious. He was premature in signing Demar to an extension, offered him way to much, and, as usual, completely misjudged a players level of talent.

    But that doesn’t justify Demar remaining part of this team moving forward… trade him ASAP so the team isn’t left paying another in another underperfomer for years, only to come to the realization too late, that they have an albatross contract.

    Unfortunately for Raptor fans, this organization and Demar, Colangelo just created a new Bargnani.

    • @Rapsfan- I think that some people automatically attach a players salary to expectations. Thus a lot of pressure is put on that player to perform up to a specific standard what ever that may be. The thing is you hit the nail on the head it isn’t his fault that he is getting paid but I think the argument that the original author is trying to convey is that it is for this very reason that fans should maybe calm down. I have like Demar for a while now although he some times disappoints. I think he is lacking some skills like ball handling, and shot selection, and general basketball IQ. I think the IQ part can be improved through practice and hard work which you cant really teach. He is physically gifted so it means given his current work ethic he has the chance to reach the expectations very soon and surpass them. That isn’t to say he can be the next best player but he can definitely rise to the ranks of a borderline all star or higher and that is a “core” player.

      We don’t have another Bargnani situation for a few reasons:
      1) Demar doesn’t have to deal with a language or game style barrier.
      2) He wants to step up and shows that he can fight through and work hard to change his game
      3) He is only 24 and he isn’t sticking to what isn’t working. He does settle on his jumper some games but all in all he attacks the rim and as he gets better and better at doing so he will start collapsing defenses and opening up offensive schemes to other players.

      You may not like Colangelo but that comparison is just as insulting as comparing Bosh and Bargnani.

  8. Why doesn’t this website have a like button yet? Step your game up score.

    • If you mean a facebook “like” button for RaptorBlog, you should see one on the right side, above the archive of posts and just below the contributors list.

      If you mean a facebook “like” button for the actual website, go to the homepage, and the like button is near the top-right corner.

  9. lucky rainbow chuck up
    let ross start

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