Up next in the scouting reports we look at the rookie who hasn’t seen a single play called for him and gets mysteriously benched despite having decent showings. DeMar DeRozan is averaging 7.8pts and 2.8rebs in 20 minutes and isn’t exactly on top of any rookie leaderboards. The only stat that he’s making a mark in is field goal percentage at 47%, good enough for 8th amongst rookies. Let’s take a look at what we know about the ex-Trojan.

Vitals:

Height: 6′ 7″.

Weight: 220 lbs.

Age: 20, born August 7, 1989.

Position: Mostly SG, some SF

College: USC, rookie.

ESPN :: BR :: HoopData

Strengths:

  • Very athletic, can cover distance quickly in transition, effective in the open court because of his desire to finish aggressively. His East-West movement with the live dribble in transition is impressive.
  • Slashing without the ball. Baseline cuts are his favorite off-the-ball movements and he always attempts to finish strong in those situations.
  • Starts off games with high-energy but as the game goes on, he becomes more and more anonymous. Hasn’t played many fourth quarters as Triano has opted to go with the unit that finished the third, usually Belinelli or Weems. His aggressiveness has been a key in good starts.
  • Has tightened his shot mechanics to the point where he’s confident he can knock down the 12-18 footer. Focuses well on getting his feet set and following through, passes up three for a shorter, more makeable jumper. Has had good shooting performances of late, plays within his offensive skill-set which helps his percentages.
  • Hard-worker, listens to coach and veterans, and tries to improve game on a daily basis.
  • Looks to get to the line which is great when you shoot close to 80% from there. 7th in FTM and FTA amongst rookies, the only two guards ahead of him are Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings. It would be fair to assume that if he has more plays run for him, he will likely go the line more than any other Raptor guard as evidenced by his 3rd place ranking on the team in FTA PER 48 (behind Bosh and Johnson). Is also second on the team in PER48 steals.

Weaknesses:

  • Slashing with the ball. A suspect handle discourages him from attacking the rim from the elbow or wing as he doesn’t have the confidence that he can negotiate the oncoming help or his man.
  • Like many rookies, not physically strong enough to defend NBA SGs. This became even more evident recently when he was matched up against Iguodala, Granger, and Carter.
  • The three-point shot has been disappointing, he’s shooting only 31% from downtown and that’s on a team that relies heavily on floor-spacing. Misses badly on his jumpers in the face of semi-contests, many times for airballs and backboards. Can’t handle tight defenders, needs to be open for jumper it to have a chance.
  • Poor ball-handler, kills dribble in the face of mild pressure. He’s in the danger of stunting his offensive growth unless he improves his ball-handling by at least 200%. The lack of one-on-one moves can also be attributed to this as his immobility with the ball prevents him from utilizing his quickness to score.
  • A defensive liability at times, doesn’t read screens well and doesn’t get in the face of opponents much. Probably one of the main reasons Triano opts for the stronger Weems and the more active, Belinelli in the fourth quarter.
  • Does not have a post-up game. In fact, I don’t think he’s posted up all season even though he’s had shorter matchups in stretches (recently, Redick and Watson come to mind).
  • Poor playmaker (or not given a chance to be one) for a SG, again, it goes back to having a good handle of the ball. Needs a little bit of Belinelli’s flash in him.

Inconsistencies and improvements:

  • Offensively, a tighter dribble is a must. It can open up new avenues of scoring for him because right now his length, reach and finishing ability are being wasted since he just doesn’t have the ball enough in playmaking/scoring positions.
  • All good to great SGs in the league have a long-range game which DeRozan struggles with. His release needs to be quicker and he must develop the ability to get off a shot while not being in full-control of his body. With defenders becoming more agile, one has to adapt and force the issue and make looks that aren’t necessarily very clean.
  • Needs to work on his defensive fundamentals, must recognize what the offense is trying to do against him and adapting. Must fight through screens and knowing when to go under vs over, needs to anticipate what offense is trying to do and not just play reactionary defense. Must increase the defensive intensity and maintain it throughout the game as it’s going to become one of the major deciding factor in getting minutes over Weems and Belinelli.
  • The weight room is calling this summer. Big time.

Value to the team:

If he left the team right now, nobody would really notice as Weems and Belinelli can do what he can do. In the long run, the Raptors are hoping that he’s of great value and a fixture at the starting SG. He hasn’t dazzled by any means, but he’s been steady and handled the fluctuating rotations well. David Thorpe of ESPN had this to say about him in his Insider article from yesterday:

DeRozan is finding his way in Toronto, slowly but surely improving. Lately, he’s put together a nice run, scoring 10 or more points in six of the Raptors’ past 11 games as their starting 2-guard. In that span, he’s made 41 of 69 shots.

I compared him to Courtney Lee this past summer, and I still see the similarities (except for his current lack of range as a shooter). He plays under control despite being one of the youngest players in the NBA.

Contract:

Rookie scale contract which pays $2.3M for this year and next. The team-option for 2011 and 2012 is $2.6M and $3.3M with the qualifying offer standing at $4.5M. The contract is reasonable and his youth and potential is likely to be of some value on the trade market.

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