I recently had a chance to catch up with DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors. While we had a wide-ranging conversation that will largely be featured over on Raptorblog (Raptors talk and all), it was fun to hit the high-flying third-year player with some rapid fire questions about the league and game that he loves so much.

While some of these answers are exactly who andwhat you’d expect, it’s always better hearing it from a fellow NBAer than it is from a fellow blogger. There are also a few twists and turns and a couple of answers you might not have anticipated.

Another thing that’s nice about these quotes from DeRozan is that he has such a high level of respect and appreciation for the game that we all love. He gets it. He fully realizes he’s living the dream that he fell in love with years ago. Here’s DeRozan, on his NBA peers:

Holly MacKenzie: If you had to pick a starting five in the NBA, who would you go with?

DeMar DeRozan: From the NBA? NBA, let’s see. We’ll start with Center. Imma go with Dwight Howard. Power Forward, Amar’e Stoudemire. My three, my three is LeBron James. My two is me, and my one … who do I want as my one? Imma go with my man, John Wall.

HM: Really John Wall? OK. Who is the best point guard in the game right now?

DD: Derrick Rose.

HM: Toughest defender? Who is the guy you don’t want to have to go up against each night?

DD: Ron Artest, hands down. So strong, moves his feet, he’s got quick hands and it’s just, it’s just tough going around him. You can’t body him, he’s too strong. you’ve just got to, I don’t know (laughs). You’ve gotta play chess with him.

HM: Who is the fiercest competitor you’ve ever faced?

DD: Kobe.

HM: I don’t know if you can put this into words, but is there something about him when you’re playing him, where you know it’s different?

DD: Yeah. It’s just, if they’re down, if something is not going right, he’s just, he’s just going into that mode where it’s like “We’ve gotta be up,” or “We’ve gotta get a defensive stop” whatever has to go on, he makes sure he gets it done because he wants to win.

HM: Does he talk a lot, is he always barking out orders?

DD: Yeah, yeah. That’s all he does. He’s a general out there. He talks, he’s constantly talking on both ends. Keeping everyone on their feet. That’s one thing, I think that’s intimidating to a lot of players when one of the best players out there is just vocal, letting everyone know what’s going on, what to do. It’s tough.

HM: Is it similar to Kevin Garnett because he has that reputation for being such an intimidat–

DD: Yeah, but Kevin Garnett’s got a dirty mouth (laughs).

HM: Yeah? Go ahead, what were you going to say?

DD: (still laughing) I was just going to say, Kevin Garnett, he just don’t stop. Whatever you can think of, that’s what he says.

HM: Does he have the craziest things to say of anyone you’ve played against?

DD: Yes. Yes.

HM: Alright. Who is the best pure scorer in the game?

DD: Kevin Durant.

HM: I was thinking of this myself and I wasn’t sure who I’d say. I probably would have said Melo before, but, I think it’s Kevin now–

DD: Yeah, I think it’s Kevin now. I think Melo is still up there, but Kevin Durant? He’s … he’s, yeah. (laughs) Kevin Durant.

HM: Did you see the video of him at Rucker yet?

DD: Yeah, I seen it. I seen it on Twitter. My little cousin, he’s a hoop addict so he shows me everything on the internet of every player. I try not to miss anything. I’m on Twitter so much, whenever they post something about anybody, I watch it.

HM: If you could have anyone’s shot?

DD: Prettiest shot? Ray Allen.

HM: Who has the ugliest shot?

DD: Ugliest shot? Shawn Marion?

HM: Is it exciting for you to know that so many players that are becoming superstars in this league, Derrick, Kevin, they’re so close to your age? It used to be that guys had to be in the league for a little longer and be 25, 26, before they got to this point, but what does it mean for you to know you’re right there, age-wise?

DD: It’s definitely crazy because Kevin Durant, everybody, we’re all around the same age. We’ve probably played against each other in AAU basketball and high school. It is crazy because it shows you how badly our generation wants to be great at this game of basketball. You can see it by the work that we put in every season with guys stepping up and growing into superstars.

HM: You say “Our generation.” Do you take pride in that, knowing that guys work hard to respect the game and play it the right way?

DD: Right. That’s the cool part about it because we go out there and go at all of the older guys, but at the same time we definitely respect the game of basketball because it did a lot for us and it’s still doing a lot for us.

HM: Of the current players in the league, who do you admire the most and why?

DD: Who I admire the most? I’d say I have to go with Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose, all of the success he’s had, winner of the MVP, he’s got to be one of the most humblest guys. One of the most humblest guys in the league because you would just think he’s a regular guy. He don’t say much. He’s a good dude. That’s one thing I really like about Derrick Rose. I’d have to say him.

HM: Enjoy watching him?

DD: Oh, definitely. One of my favorites to watch, you know the playoff games I watched every game with him. He’s definitely cool.

HM: What makes him so tough?

DD: Man. His speed and ability to change direction. He’s got a move for every counter. Just tough. Now that he’s got a 3-point shot, there’s really no way you can play him. He’ll kill you off the screen and roll. He’s tough.