DD has shown improvement in a lot of areas this season. I remember he said in an interview that he watched a lot of game footage of DWade over the summer. Well, now that explains it!
He's only 23 and I think he still has a lot of room to grow. He hasn't reached his ceiling yet.
Other than Wade, you can argue that Demar is as good or better than any of the guys you listed so I think the argument for him being second in the east is reasonnable, if not all that impressive.
While the argument could be made for #2, the case against it is a little stronger.
Regardless, Demar is still VERY young and showing tremendous progess this year; and is sure to only improve for the next several seasons.
Funny people complain about the Derozan signing despite the highly arguable assertion discussed here that he is among the very best at his position in the East. Though some hate to admit it, Toronto's future doesn't look half bad at all.
The flilp side to Toronto's future not looking half bad is it only looks half good. Mediocrity is the number one concern moving forward - at least for me.
But the club seems to be on the verge of contending for dominance at the positions of PG, SG and C while maintaining significant depth in the roster and a balance of offensive and defensive prowess. This approach would seem to me to be the best for a "small market" team like Toronto.
The SF position is a problem, but once it is fixed and JV + TR mature this could predictably become a contending franchise.
I don't think DeRozan's worthiness was all that un-demonstrated. Most of his stats have been steadily improving since the start of his career. He's never been as bad as people on this forum have fantasized him to be. Yeah, he can be a bit of a klutz sometimes, but he's young and shows some innate genius with his body. He's been a better than average SG for a long time on a rookie scale contract. He's been just great for the franchise. And, as some have pointed out, it pays in the long run for the franchise to show good faith to long-term players that give their best and have potential. Otherwise, even fewer talents will agree to come here.
As for DD, he has been an one dimensional scorer and inefficient at that for his career. He has shown improvement this year but he still has a way to go - that is just my opinion - but I do think much more of him now than before the contract was signed. The last few games he has held the ball higher and carried the ball like a football RB when driving to the rim - that alone is going to add a lot more to his game. Rebounding is better. Still brutal on defense - no if's and's or but's about it.