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Has DeMar Improved his Shot Selection?

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DeMar DeRozan
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

 

Things are looking pretty in the 6. The Raptors are a perfect 5-0, coming off an impressive road win in Oklahoma City. Heading into the season, however, the national media was not high on the Raptors. The main reason for their skepticism was the team’s piss poor defense, which proved particularly egregious in the playoffs. While the team’s defensive rating has improved dramatically, questions loom about the team’s offense when it matters most:

“Toronto’s offense will remain its strength, though it’s not clear who leads the O and who will take the biggest shots: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto’s leading scorer last year, hits too low a percentage of his shots to be the star of a playoff team.”

The main criticism about DeMar, of course, is that he takes too many long twos:

In a league enamored with dunks, layups and 3-pointers, DeMar DeRozan is a throwback — and not in a good way. He took 57 percent of his shots between 10 feet from the basket and the 3-point line last season — a career high — and hit a career-low 36 percent of them. He was Toronto’s only player to average 20 points per game, but also the least efficient scorer of any 20-point guy in the league. The Raptors need him to take better shots and share more of the offensive burden.

So, has DeMar changed his ways? Let’s take a look.

% of FGA 0-3 feet 3-10 feet 10-16 feet 16 < 3 feet 3P
2014-2015 .193 .152 .228 .338 .089
2015-2016 .132 .289 .342 .132 .092

 

(Stats taken from Basketball-reference.com)

Shotchart 2014-2015
2014- 2015 Shotchart
Shotchart_1446812151383 (2)
2015 – 2016 shotchart

 

DeMar is never going to be a prototype for the modern day 3s-and-layups offense but he has made an effort to cut down on long twos. Whereas last season an astounding 34 percent of his field goal attempts were between 16 feet and the three point line, this season he’s cut that number down to thirteen percent. He’s still taking a lot of jump shots, but they’re higher percentage attempts. In terms of whether he’s taking “good shots” that’s not always something that can be measured statistically. According to the player tracking system he’s taking less open shots this season, but that makes sense given that he’s not firing up as many long twos.

Closest Defender 2014- 2015 2015-2016
Very Tight (0-2 feet) 18 % 17.1 %
Tight (2-4 feet) 48 % 60.5 %
Open (4-6 feet) 21.1 % 11.8 %
Wide Open (6 + feet) 4 % 1.3 %

 

(nba.com/stats)

Shooting in tighter space has also increased DeMar’s free throw attempts this season. He was one of the best in the league last year, but this season he’s gone absolutely ham, getting to the line 11 times a game. Getting to the line and shooting a high percentage not only yields a high points per possession, it also improves the team’s defense by forcing the opposing team to inbound the ball, thus allowing the Raps to set up on defense.

DeMar is never going to be a player whose offensive prowess doesn’t rely heavily on mid-range jump shots. He worked intensely on improving his three point shot this offseason. So far we’re not seeing much improvement in that department. It’s too early to take anything particularly meaningful from the statistics but it’s at least encouraging to see that DeMar is cutting down on the long twos. I’ll end this with some questions for you all. Has DeMar improved his shot selection? Will he slide back into his old ways? Anyhow, I’m off to Orlando to catch the Raps game. If you see a lanky 6-7 dude dancing around like an idiot in the crowd tonight, it’s probably me. Go Raps.

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