In the 2009 NBA Draft the Toronto Raptors selected DeMar DeRozan in the 1st round (#9 overall) out of USC. This is his 4th season. He has been pretty good, perhaps not all the way up to “great”. His upside is high, and the 2012-2013 Raptors badly require steps forward from DeRozan and his development.
There are not many young, high-upside, shooting guards in the NBA so DeRozan has a chance to be a rare asset at the position. His scoring did dip last season to 16.7 points per game (from 17.2 career-high previous season). He has sure strengths on offense, but he also has sure areas that require improvements.
One aspect I like from DeRozan is he does not need plays run for him for him to contribute. He is marvelous in transition (great finisher) and is a very good slasher/cutter. He attacks the rim using his extreme athleticism. This is a guy who as dunking in Grade 6 so we know he can fly. When he gets the ball with any sort of room he is adept at using his quick first step and exploding to the rim.
Odd to be such a poor shooter for a shooting guard/small forward wing player, and this is a certain area that requires improvement. Last season he shot a career-high 26% from 3-ball range. Yikes. His mid-range game has improved, but there is still work to do. Too much of his game remains raw and 1-dimensional. He has always had time to grow as a Raptor, but this season the wing is getting potentially crowded (Landry Fields and Terrence Ross added in off-season). DeRozan will need to raise his game to establish that he is still worthy of being a starter on this team (he has played 145 games the past 2 season, all of those were starts).
DD has seen his shooting percentage decrease every season. With the PG combo of Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon I would anticipate a better flow to the Raps O than we have seen recently. I also think that Dwane Casey will have significantly more emphasis on offensive play his season. Last season was all about defense, but I think the balance of working on defense and offense will be better this season. Casey has (slightly) less to teach about how he wants these guys to play defense going forward so we can expect the offense to get a lot of attention from the coaching staff in 2012-2013.
DD is a very good free-throw shooter so I love that he actively looks to be aggressive in attacking the rim (the anti-Vince Carter…VC should have added free points from the foul line on a regular basis, but he was scared of any potential contact in the lane).
Not only is there an increase of talent on this team for the shooting guard spot, but the guys are good defenders which is the sort of thing Casey covets. DeRozan has a 6’9″ wingspan. He has a chance to be a good defender (especially with Casey’s tutelage). DeRozan needs to improve his footwork on D. Too often opponents get penetration by beating him off the dribble. He needs to find angles/footwork to help him better deny players who want to drive on him (or drive by him). The Raps have a few pretty good shot blockers in Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, and Jonas Valanciunas, but not nearly enough consequences at the rim to allow penetration as often as DD does.
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