DeMar has really been an x-factor for the Raptors this season. When he’s attacking and his jumpers are falling, the Raps are that much better and win a fair amount of their games. They are 9-11 when DeRozan scores 20+ points since December 18th. That’s not bad for a team with a 16-34 record.
Everyone seems to think that DeMar has really been having an off season due to his numbers being lower than expected and the fact that he hasn’t taken over a leadership role with the team. But in reality, DeRozan is in a great spot in his third season.
Bargnani largely handled the role of the leader early and DeRozan went with it happily, as did everyone else in Raptor Nation until Bargs’ injury. Then more blame fell instantly on DeMar. He wasn’t scoring enough, he wasn’t showing leadership and he couldn’t carry a team on his back like so many other great players.
Newsflash everyone. DeMar is not Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.
At least not yet.
But he has shown that he can score and has come up big against a number of top tier teams this season. He scored a combined 82 points in four games against the Knicks and dropped 23 against the East leading Bulls. He lit up the Spurs for 29, nailed the Magic with 23, had 21 against Boston and silenced Miami with 25.
DeMar has been hated on for his “lack of consistency” this season. Another place where fans are really reading too deeply into things. He has only had 10 games where he’s scored in single-digits since December 18th. And the longest streak of single digit games since that date is 3.
He is averaging 18ppg in the month of March and recorded 18.5ppg in February. He’s on track to become a 20ppg player now that he’s developed a good mid-range game and become more aggressive. He has gotten to the line 67 times this month and shot 85%, while shooting 44.2% from the field.
And give DeRozan credit. He’s working hard to improve his game and become the go-to player that everyone wants to see now. He’s had to go from being the second option to Bargnani to the first option, then back to the second option when Calderon got hot, then back to the first option due to injuries and now he himself has gotten injured. It’s been a crazy season for him.
Other than DeMar, the Raps’ roster could be completely different this time next year. DeRozan has shown that he’s a player the team can build around and with the right pieces, plus Casey’s excellent coaching, the Raps will be off to the playoffs in no time. They have a few good draft picks (one acquired in the Barbosa trade) and have Jonas V. coming in.
The future is bright.
But for right now, this season is another learning one for DeMar. He’ll keep improving and could possibly be a 20ppg scorer by next season. The Raps are currently 0-2 without DeRozan, who is sitting out with an ankle injury.
DeRozan is emerging from his chrysalis a beautiful butterfly and other teams are finally starting to take notice.