I have to address this DeMar DeRozan situation. In brief, my position on him and his season so far: it’s absolutely fair to say he’s been disappointing and point out that he is driving less frequently. It’s also fair to wonder how high our expectations should have been. It’s outrageous to compare him to Jamario Moon, silly to accuse him of not caring, misguided to think he’s close to his ceiling, and absurd to talk about benching him. DeRozan is 22 years old and the second-best player on this team. He loves basketball more than you do and shot a gorillion three pointers this summer in an effort to open up his offensive game. It’s an issue of caring too much, not too little — his body language and the look on his face during a rough shooting night tell me that in those moments when you’re frustrated with him, he’s frustrated with himself tenfold.

One reason for DeRozan’s struggles is, ironically, the fact that he improved his outside shot. He spent his his first two seasons figuring out how to score against NBA defense without possessing three-point range. Now that the shot is in his arsenal, not only does he have to keep working until it’s consistent, he has to learn when he should use it and when he should attack the rim. You learn this through experience. The Raptors will gladly invest in bad shooting nights now, knowing his work last offseason will pay dividends down the line.

John Wall, Evan Turner, Brandon Jennings, and Tyreke Evans were also supposed to enter this season with better form and range. So far, Jennings is the only one who has shot a better percentage on long twos and threes and even he isn’t exempt from the kind of impatience that’s driving me crazy here. What we need to focus on with these guys is the qualitative differences that hint at improved efficiency in the future, even if it’s not showing in the numbers three weeks into a compressed season. I’d count DeRozan’s increased comfort level when shooting from deep as one of those differences.

Of those players, Wall’s season is the most instructive. He’s on the league’s worst team and his start to the year was as disappointing as anyone’s. While he had previously relied on his finishing ability and being the fastest basketball player alive, he started this season wanting to prove that he’d added to his game. He looked for his jumper often and looked more miserable with every misfire. His game used to be instinctive; now he was thinking too much. Life would have been a lot easier if he was on an older, smarter team, but as a Wizard the 21-year-old had to feel the pressure of being the team’s number-one option and the franchise’s saviour. It’s important how he explained his 38-point explosion against the Rockets last week:

“Yeah, I think I’m just relaxing, playing basketball, not thinking too much,” said Wall, who was 13 of 22 from the field, and 12 of 16 from the foul line against Houston. “I think when I was going out there and just thinking the whole time I’m playing, not knowing when to shoot, just thinking too much and not going out there and playing free.”

Via Wizards Insider by Michael Lee, 1/17/12

When DeRozan is confident and comfortable enough to consistently just go out and play like he did in the third quarter last night, those who have written him off will regret it. Raptors fans begged for the franchise to rebuild; now that it’s happening they need to be patient. If there’s anyone who deserves patience, it’s the young man who averaged 19.9 points after the All-Star break last year and showed up this season with an improved commitment to defense and a better-looking jumper.

Perhaps he’ll find consistency and balance on offense once he’s used to expending more energy on D. Perhaps it’ll happen when Andrea Bargnani’s return gives the team some semblance of spacing. Perhaps it will happen when Dwane Casey finally has time to run a full-length practice and focus on how to put the ball in the basket. Even if it doesn’t happen until a year from now, it’s worth the wait.

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55 Responses to “On DeMar DeRozan”

  1. voy

    good stuff here.  although, if afforded the opportunity, I dont think any of us here would complain about getting paid to shoot a gorillion jumpers a day. I agree with the thesis but not, maybe, with the sentiment that DD loves basketball more than any of us.

  2. KJ-B

    I just think he doesn’t jell with DCasey’s version of ‘O’ … He lost Jay & Coach English and that’s a lot of change for a young player… I think when the 2nd half begins post All Star game and he begins to look to next year and his extension, yes it’s a ‘pro’ league (remember the lockout), you’ll see the best from DD once again… Just a lot of adjustments right now… 

    Great article, don’t say that enough!

    • Theswirsky

      I agree with the first part.  Casey slow approach to the game not only means the Raps defense has ample time to get set, but it also means their opponents defense does to. 

      When Demar can’t just run past the defense anymore, that is he actually has to dribble by them, his productivity gets nailed. 

      • Statement

        Absolutely bang on Theswirsky.

        Demar’s strength is the transition game, but when you deliberately slow the game, he is exposed.

        Do you think that casey will change his style once he gets better players?  Or do you think that he will maintain this half court, slow down style?

        I know Casey is an advanced stats person (wrote the foreward to this year’s basketball prospectus) and he under stands that if you minimize possessions, you give a crappier team more of an opportunity to win the game.

        I also think that half court basketball is what wins in the playoffs (could be wrong).  So, given that, should Demar be shown the door as it doesn’t seem as if he has the skills to play half-court basketball?

        • Theswirsky

          I fully expect slow pace to be the new norm for the Raps.  It has a history of success in the NBA, and the playoffs end up turning into that anyways.  Its old school east coast purist basketball, and Casey gives me the impression of being from that school (good for team success, bad for any but the purists to watch)

          I think there needs to be alot of changes on this roster for that to be successful though.

        • LJames

          Demar will never be a great player or all-around player like lebron or kobe of his size.  He looks weak, for him to be strong and aggressive, he needs some more muscles and quickness.

  3. Balls of Steel

    I find this season very ironic. I mean they’re playing so many games in as many nights yet people are complaining that there’s not enough time for practice. Practice, we’re talking about practice. Practice, not the game, practice. Practice, we’re talking about practice, not the game that I go out and die for, practice. Oooops, sorry, wrong clip.

    What I’m trying to say is that the lack of practice in the new system is somehow hampering Demar (that’s the excuse). Can’t we treat actual games and video sessions as practice in a condense season? Could an 82 games schedule, proper training camp and lots of practice really improve Demar as many people have suggested?

  4. macayita

    Finnaly someone putting some sense in so much negativity!! DD is going to be an all start in the year to come!!

    • Black Angus

      I have not problem being patient with young talent, but based on his body of work to date suggesting DD will ever be an all-star shooting guard is ridiculous. I am getting old and my memory is starting to go, but I am having a hard time trying to recall a past shooting guard who has struggled as much as DD and then became an all-star. Most “all-star” calibre shooting guards come into the league with a least one incredible skill – shooting, attaching the rim, being a stopper on D-fence… I don’t see any of this from DD.

      • William Lowell

        Compare Derozans stats in his first 2 years, to that of someone known as Kobe Bryant

        • Pizzaman

          Kobe was fresh out of high school and rode the bench. Bryant played 15.5 minutes per game the first year to DD’s 21.6, and Bryant played 26 in year 2 compared to DD’s 35 minutes. Also all you have to do is look at the stats you talk about; Kobe had real SG skills and stats. His FG % was in line with the fact that he shot almost as well from the three as he did elsewhere, while DD got all his points at the rim. Kobe had higher assists, and less TO’s.
          After all that I’m surprised I am writing this because to put DD in the same breath as Kobe is about the most laughable thing I’ve heard as a player comparison ever. Ask Jordan what he thinks since he just recently said Kobe is the only one close to everything including the desire.

  5. Theswirsky

    I don’t think the issue is with Demar not shooting well. I mean he’s clearly not, but thats just part of a bigger problem.  Its with him either not, or not being able to, attack the rim.  Not being able to handle the ball and no ability to pass the ball (plus limited defense ability as a bonus)

    Lets also not forget that this guy is no longer a rookie.  He’s in his 3rd year.  Being 22 has no bearing if he is unable to compete.  I can find you thousands of 22 year olds who work hard and would love to compete… doesn’t mean they deserve minutes in the NBA. 

    I really hope people aren’t expecting others to wait 6 years for every draft pick this team makes to not look like a liability.  God help this team if thats the case.  By the time one shows up, the previous player is getting ready to retire.

    • mountio

      I am the furthest thing from impressed with DD this year .. but to think that a 22 year old in his third year cant improve (and improve dramatically) is crazy.
      Yes, some guys come into the league and contribute right away (DH, LBJ, BG), but most have a long learning curve. Hell, it took Zach Randolph almost a decade to “get it” and turn into a great NBA player from what can best be described as a “liability” for most of his career. I think we all would admit that AB looks to have improved quite a bit from his 5th to 6th year. I could give many other examples.
      Im not saying Im sold that DD will dramatically improve, but to suggest its not likely and we shouldnt be waiting this long because hes in his third year is way off base ..

      • Theswirsky

        I don’t doubt he can improve.  But can he improve enough to be a useful part of a successful team?  You used Zach Randolph as an example.  He was a 20-10 guy before he ‘got it’.  He had the talent, he had the skills it was always a question of whether he could play team ball and try on defense.  For one season atleast he did.

        But Demar’s not at that level.  He is lacking a ton of different skills (not to mention consistency) for his position and role.  Its not a matter of things just ‘clicking’.  Its a question of him being good enough when things do click.

      • Bendit

        Zach R.?? Zach’s problems had not very much to do with his BB skills. He was a felony waiting to happen and a charter member of the Portland Jail Blazers with very little regard for authority of any kind including his coaches. DD near as I can tell has none of those traits. His body language indicates a confidence problem. That and the fact he spent just one yr in college getting by just on his athleticism and undeveloped other fundamental skills already pointed out is a problem at this level. 

        • raptorboy

          Well said. He needs an injection of confidence in order to begin utilizing the skills he already has.

    • voy

      I dont think anyone is going to wait for DD.  If we can improve upon the position with a young player or via the draft we do it.  Just because he’s still on the team a month into his third season doesn’t mean BC will refuse to upgrade DD if given the opportunity, in my opinion.  

      • Theswirsky

        That wasn’t so much about what BC will do (but I can easily picture him waiting for as long as it takes for a player to show up… won’t be the first time) but rather fans and more specifically the original post.

        Always wanting others to wait because said player is young, because it takes X years to develop, or because said player may magically develop some skill they’ve historically never shown a nack for.

        The amount of players who change significantly in NBA is small (atleast positively).  Its rare.  And even then its players usually developing their pre-existing skills rather, adjusting to a higher talent level and understanding what it takes to win rather than adding alot of missing qualities.

        I have no problems waiting… its a necessary evil anyways.  But I want to wait for skilled, diverse talented players to get experience.  Not one dimensional, weak, flawed players to turn some corner that rarely exists in the NBA.

        Maybe Bargnani returning will help Demar… but enough to make him worthy of a starting NBA role?  Maybe a change of pace has hurt his ability in the NBA… but this will almost definetely be the new normal for this team.  Maybe more time to adjust to the changes on this team, but I don’t see how that will help him dribble the ball.

        Patience is a virtue, but patiently waiting in line to get kicked in the balls isn’t benifiting anyone (except perhaps those watching).

        (didn’t mean to drop a rant on you and its well beyond what your comment was)

        • CJT

          I suppose I understand your hesitation here because after watching the Leafs flounder since the 60’s we all that we deserve a winning team.  But we are very quick to quit on our players only to watch them become very good players in the league.  I want to support a winning team just like you do, but I am prepared to allow them some time to become relevant.  I feel like this is a starting point.  A lot has changed and there have been many poor decisions made historically, but I think it is very premature to condemn our young players as they adjust to a new system and a new coach etc.

          • Copywryter

            The only Raptor I can think of that went on to be a ‘very good player’ after leaving the Raptors is Marcus Camby.
            Who else are you talking about? T-Mac? Nobody wanted him to leave.  

            We have either drafted duds or players who had their best years with us.

            Mostly the former.

              • Theswirsky

                Billups wanted to leave town.  Christie was nothing special, and I don’t remember anyone ‘quitting’ on him.

                • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

                  DChristie was a very solid defender that could guard pgs, sgs & sfs.

                  He did very well in Sacramento.

        • Copywryter

          Bravo! In addition to his weak handle you could add below average defense, rebounding, passing and all-around IQ. He’s a good kid who’s clearly trying, but after three years Demar simply looks to be an average NBA pro.  I’ll accept the argument that his numbers are hurt by Casey’s system, but there’s a lot of stuff beyond the box score that I have not seen improve. That makes it hard to see him as a building block for a team that has so little talent or depth. 

  6. macayita

    Finally someone is putting some sense in so much
    negativity!! DD is going to be an all start in the years to come!!!

    • Fletchmer

      The DD that played fort he raptors last year had the promise of becoming an all star, The DD that is suiting up this year not a hope in hell. I agree with most it our offensive system which has made him look ordinary at best. Maybe as things evolve he will show promise again. But the one thing that concerns me the most about him is the amount of air-balls and complete chunks he puts up.  A true scorer either puts it in or rims out not the case with him. 

  7. Raps4Ever

    Very well put James Herbert!!! None of us knows what level DeMar will reach, but to rip him apart at this point, often with a very misguided views, is certainly absurd. Well done!!

  8. Harvey

    One guy I found interesting was Dorell Wright, last season he was averaging 16.4 pgg and was a candidate for most improved player. This year so far he’s averaging 9.6 ppg and virtually all of his other numbers are down, maybe the transition from Keith Smart to a more defensive guy like Mark Jackson affected that. Who knows.

  9. Kurt Joslyn

    DD started the season very well (then first 8 games in particular.   It’s been a struggle since then.

    He’s so much more effective when he’s trying to the basket or shooting mid-range jumpers.  He had to improve his 3 point shooting, and he has, but his he settle for 3’s.  

    He also has to greatly improve his ball handling skills.  

    I’m not sure how much better DD will get, but there is hope.

  10. truthwillsetufree

    Raptors should left Alex English as a assistant coach.  Raptors had no problem scoring last year on teams, but they couldn’t stop anyone.  Why would the gm replace Alex English and offense wasn’t the problem.  But we could also say, what if the raptors gm and scouts did a better job.  Just look at Pacers that should be our team, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger and Tate George should be on this team.  Look im not hating on Derozan but the kid needs a lot work. He is still young but he needs improve his handle or else he’s done.  

    • Mel

      Tate George? It’s Paul George, and there’s no way we could have drafted him because he was taken 10th overall and we had the 13th pick, and chose Davis.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Nori, Hughes & Roth were retained by Casey from Triano’s staff but no Alex English?

      I think that Amir, Ed, JJ & DD’s development has been hurt by not retaining Basketball Hall of Famer & NBA Legend Alex ‘Amazing Grace’ English. 

      • Benjamin

        I like Alex English, but I’m surprised it took him a while to find a job again. Was hired by the Kings like 10 days ago, and only as an assistant. He’s a guy that really takes his shit seriously and loves the game.

  11. Your Name

    Finally!!!! A non-hating every Raptor  write-up….lol.  Jk.  Just that it’s all I ever read online.  Nothing positive.  Anyways, I agree with you and this write-up.  DD is doing what every player goes thru.  Some longer than others because every man is different, and players have different style games, therefore, need to work on different things to get better.  That can take time.  I hope he shakes out of the funk he’s in because he needs to teach the haters a lesson in patience and being a true fan of our ball players..which involves patience, in my opinion.

  12. Jeffrey Thompson

    We need Demar to get his confidence back because without Bargnarni, we do not have much else in terms of offensive production.  Somehow, Demar has to start getting more aggressive especially now  

  13. FAQ

    DD does not fit in with Casey’s b’ball system of defense first and then offense.

    Poor DD is tuckering himself out on defense and he’s too exhausted to retain his shooting touch.

    Now DD is facing stronger defenses and his offense suffers mightily.

    If BC has bought into Casey’s defense first approach, he will have to trade DD because he only plays b’ball if he is holding the ball  on offense.

    DD’s offense just doesn’t flow from his defense… he’s too weak, too flimsy and now it shows.  Ironically, AB is flourishing under Casey’s system of play.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      AB got injured, and is currently out missing 6 games (out LAC) and counting, playing Casey’s style of basketball after only 10 games during game 11.smh lol

  14. AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    Just make an offer to Gallinari and you have SF and shooting problem out of the window

      • Vance

        Meh, took him the full game + 2 OTs to do it, and everyone’s dropping 40 on the Knicks nowadays. 

  15. Brandon

    What difference does any of this make? He’s still a fungible player on a very bad team. He can improve his game by, perhaps, 5% in the next few years. He still won’t be more than a benchwarmer on a good team. Commenting at length on him is a waste of words.

  16. Tinman

    Nice read and well put!
    Both Demar’s and Ed Davis’s start can only be described as disappointing considering we have them penciled in as key parts of this rebuild.
    Fortunately we have this season to let them continue to take their lumps, while tanking is a ridiculous notion, I take each loss as a step closer to the low lottery pick that is definately in the best interest of the teams ambitions.
    Both are too young to give up on and I expect them both to continue to get better.
    But both of their slow starts do concern me.

  17. Copywryter

    “What we need to focus on with these guys is the qualitative differences that hint at improved efficiency in the future” 

    Evan Turner is a much better (overall) basketball player than Demar and has improved tremendously from last season. You shouldn’t compare them.

    Demar is what is he is – a run and gun slasher with big ups who needs help to get his shot off.  He could improve his shooting percentage and range, yes, and may yet do so, but what about his ballhandling, passing, rebounding and defense? He’s also not a great finisher around the basket nor in possession of a great first step. He’s just an average NBA’er with the potential to be better-than-average. 

    Waiting a year or three isn’t going to make that much difference.

  18. BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    BC has hyped DD up as the face of the franchise especially since the season ending presser of 2011 (enigma of enigmas) without doing his homework on DD’s overalll skill level (which has improved each year since his rookie season) which if you look around the league at starting NBA SGs is not that overwhelming.

    I judge DD in part by looking at who he has a clear advantage over at SG in the NBA and right now off of the top of my head I can only think of AParker (Cleveland).

    That being said anyone trying to make any serious player analysis after a 2 week training this soon into an unbalanced condensed schedule 66 game season is reaching to sell a storyline.
    By March if the same deficiencies are apparent in DD’s game then you can begin to wonder aloud how good will he become in the NBA but the real litmus test will be the 2012-13 season in my mind.

  19. Its-a-wRAP

    This is well said. I can’t believe how many people will rip him when it’s not going well. Everyone wants him to do well as well as himself. The team offense is struggling. He made strides on his range and defense but yet people are getting restless like he’s turkoglu. Remember that he is only 22 and a leader on one of the youngest teams. The raptors aren’t exactly accustomed to winning. It’s going to take some time but when he will start clicking, the whole team will look that much better.

  20. DeMar DeRozan

    IMO DeMar DeRozan Reminds me of Clyde Drexler. Their stats are amazingly similar and they are the same height cept demar has 10 more pounds of muscle. Drexler wasn’t a great shooter at the start but he improved. DeMar needs to rebound more and get his teammates some looks. If he can become like cylde drexler that would be incredible

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      I like DD’s potential talent level but he is no where near CDrexler’s talent level….not even close.

    • Pizzaman

      I like DD but he is not a great ball player, and he is so far behind Drexler he’s not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence. Then again many on this site compared him to Kobe not that long ago.

    • Dekobeyo

      are you fucking retarded?….dont even mention deairball in with one of the greats to ever play the game…smh

      so dumb…our fans are so dumb.

  21. Buschfire

    DeMar has the oppurtunity to become a pretty good player in this league, he is still is very raw and has a lot of improving to do. below is a list of things he needs to improve prioritzed from most important.

    1. ball handling
    2. creating for himself
    3. Jump shot / 3 point shot
    4. decision making
    5. passing
    6. consistency

    Personally I’m writing off this whole season as one big practice, a time for all the youngnz to develop what they need to work on. I.E. who cares how many times this season DeMar uses his jump shot instead of driving, the more he shoots the more he will improve, if all the young players can work on the faults this season even if we loose, potentially next year they will be much better. Especially when we get rid of these 1 year scrubs, and hopefully get a nice 1 or 2 draft picks. having better players to play with will instill more confidence in these players.

    sidenote how many picks do we have in the 2012 draft?

  22. Gjh

    Good analysis, i had no idea guys like wall were also failing to show their range this season.. This does make sense because last season, jay ran a lot of plays for derozan and really never put accountability on him. Giving derozan that freedom, he exceeded our expectations (offensively at least). He probably has a lot to show us but it will all come together for him one day..


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