What Should Make You Scared: DeRozan continuing to try to be The Man and failing, or succeeding enough to get Toronto to double-down on its bet on the wing. Come the end of this season, the Raptors will have to decide whether they want to lock up 2009 first-rounder DeRozan -- the starter at shooting guard the past two seasons, now moving to small forward due to a glaring need there and the presence of offseason imports Fields and 2012 lottery pick Terrence Ross -- with a long-term contract, or to extend him a one-year, $4.5 million qualifying offer that would make him a restricted free agent following the '13-'14 season. As such, a lot of eyeballs are going to be trained on DeMar's play this year, with the Raps reportedly wanting "to be wowed" by him before they'll put ink to paper. This could mean DeRozan looking to do (read: score) more, which could be a problem.
While DeRozan has been one of Toronto's two leading scorers in each of the past two seasons, as the share of team possessions he's used on offense has increased throughout his career, his field goal, True Shooting and Effective Field Goal percentages have all declined. So has his individual Offensive Rating -- after producing an average of 106.5 points per 100 possessions as a rookie, he dipped to 103.2-per-100 in Year 2 and 100.8-per-100 in Year 3, according to NBA.com's stat tool.
As defenders play off DeRozan to account for his athleticism and explosiveness off the dribble, he's tried to make them pay with the jumper, but he's just not good enough with it to use it as often as he does. Midrange Js and threes accounted for 59.4 percent of his field-goal attempts last year, but he shot just 36.3 percent on the former and 26.1 percent on the latter. (That deep mark, at least, was a significant bump from the 9.6 percent he managed in '10-'11.) The focus of his game has to be attacking the rim; considering his weak rebounding numbers, the fact that his assist and turnover rates are basically a wash, and that he doesn't create many turnovers in the way of blocks and steals, if DeRozan continues to just float outside without fixing his janky jumper, he might do more harm than good on the floor.
Strangely enough, Toronto's situation might be even worse if DeRozan does post a small improvement. After the Raptors drafted Ross eighth overall and gambled on a three-year offer sheet for Fields to checkmate the Knicks out of a potential sign-and-trade for top free agent target Steve Nash (which, as you know, backfired), they now finds themselves in a position of having already made two big investments in wings as another, more established player's contract comes up.
Say DeRozan does trend up this year, averaging something like 18 points per 36 minutes, nudging his shooting percentages up a bit (say, 45 percent from the field and near 30 percent from deep, while continuing to hit better than 80 percent at the line) and showing a bit more commitment on defense. Do Bryan Colangelo and Ed Stefanski then decide they have to keep him around, even if it costs them eight figures a year? Go for it and you could hamstring the franchise for years to come; turn away and you could miss the prime seasons of an electric athlete coming into his own. That's enough to give any exec trouble sleeping.