Since entering the NBA at the ripe age of 20 years old, Demar Derozan has teased Toronto Raptors fans like few other players in the franchise’s history. With his ungodly leaping ability, athleticism and endorsed gym rat mentality at USC Raptor fans were ecstatic when David Stern called his name at the 2009 NBA Draft in New York (although Jrue Holiday was still on the board but that’s for another time). After all, these were the same fans who once saw Vince Carter routinely perform his high wired circus acts on a nightly basis. Derozan could be the second coming, their very own human highlight reel for a second time, and he has been … kind of.
Ok, not really.
Four years into his NBA career, Derozan has certainly entertained Raptor fans with his fair share of highflying dunks (albeit definitely not to the degree that Carter did) while also developing into a pretty darn good pro. 12 games into this season Derozan is averaging 21.2 PPG for the Raptors while his offensive repertoire, most notably his three point shooting, has steadily increased through his four seasons in the league. Make no mistake about it, a 20+ scorer in the NBA is not by coincidence, that takes a considerable amount of talent and skill on a nightly basis. Derozan is a good player
But the Raptors can’t build around him.
For all of his individual offensive success thus far in his career, Derozan has struggled in being able to carry his Raptors to team success. This season Derozan is averaging 2.6 assists per game (APG) — a career high. Let me repeat, a career high for a guy who is looked upon as arguably the go-to scorer on the Raptors and regularly receives the opposing team’s full attention every night.
Derozan is a solid pro, a good scorer, and a great piece to a potentially contending team, but he is not a franchise-altering player like Carter once was for the Raptors. He is good at what he does: scoring, and there’s nothing wrong with that, until called upon to be the leader of a playoff bound team.
The Raptors are dead last in APG this season and Derozan is the second team leader in assists with his aforementioned 2.5 average. Now that’s some pretty bad ball movement on the Raptors part. Unlike his scoring punch, which has gotten stronger every year, Derozan’s overall game has improved minimally since entering the league as he has a 1.8-1.6 assist to turnover ratio and 3.5 rebound per game career averages, respectively. Worst yet, with Dwane Casey‘s at the helm in Raptor-land, Raptor fans shouldn’t be optimistic that this will change anytime soon. In asking Derozan to (a) be the go-to-scorer or (b) create for others, the Raptors are simply fooling themselves. They will either be caught in a state of passable mediocrity (see my earlier article) or they will remain as one of the league’s most stagnant offensive teams.
Either somehow bring in a game-changing player or reconsider the team philosophy because as the way the Raptors currently stand, Derozan, and the Raptors, both are failing to realize his potential worth.