The 2012-2013 season should be an interesting one for the Toronto Raptors. One of the biggest stories going into the year is the status of 4th year swingman DeMar DeRozan. Playing in the final year of his rookie contract, it is difficult to predict whether DeRozan will make the big bucks next year. Reports indicate that DeRozan’s agent and the Raptors front office are trying to work out an extension, however DeRozan is likely demanding more than he has earned.
DeRozan is one of the up and coming shooting guards of the NBA today. Just 23, he has plenty of room to grow into a special player. He’s already one of the most athletic players in the league, and attacks the rim hard, drawing tons of fouls and gets to the line at a high rate. His mid-range shot is also solid, however his three-point range is still lacking and it appears that the Raptors will just have to accept he will never be a high end three point shooter. Defensively and on the glass, DeRozan has been below average throughout his career thus far.
However, this season he may be primed to breakout in a big way. While the preseason isn’t the best indicator,DeRozan has shown us aspects of his game we’ve never seen before. His post up play appears to be another asset of his and opens up another dimension to his offence, and his ball handling looks improved. Defensively, DeRozan has been doing a decent job of staying with his check, and has been stealing the ball at an average of 1.8 per game.
The Raptors are hesitant to extend DeRozan right away, however. Last season he regressed statistically, making the Raptors cautious of throwing ‘star’ bucks at him when he might not develop into one. His scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding, and assists all decreased by a small amount. Considering he was leading the offence for a large portion of the season, he didn’t take the step people were hoping for.
DeRozan’s fair market value is likely around 7-8 million per year, and if the Raptors can extend him long term for this price, it could end up being a bargain. However, his value could change quickly after this season, for the better or worse. DeRozan could legitimately see between 10-15 million per year if he breaks out, or 4-7 if he regresses.
DeRozan certainly has the potential to become an all-star and elite scorer, and the time could be now. He looks stronger, more aggressive, an improved defender, and the fact of the matter is, he knows it’s make or break this year.
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