The preseason starts tonight for the Raptors, and over the month of October, we’ll be breaking down the roster player-by-player leading up to the season opener on Oct. 27 against the Knicks. So far Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon have been featured, with second-year guard DeMar DeRozan today’s subject:
If there’s a glimmer of hope in Raptorland, it lies in DeMar DeRozan. That said, he’ll have to be much-improved from his rookie season to make an impact in 2010-11, which he’ll be given ample opportunity to with Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu out of the mix.
DeRozan was as advertised as a rookie — raw and athletic, with no jumper whatsoever. He was given the starting two spot from opening night forward last season, and responded with averages of 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per night, shooting 49.8% from the field by slashing and taking good shots, which was all the Raptors asked of him. With less offensive options this year, his game figures to be more perimeter-oriented by default, which means he’ll have to improve his outside game to be a positive factor. That doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to transform into a long-range bomber (he attempted just 16 threes as a rookie, making four), but he’ll at least have to show teams he can make a deep shot to get some space to attack the basket.
DeRozan took a step in the right direction over the off-season, averaging 21 points and shooting 58% in four games for Toronto in the Vegas Summer League, while also showing an improved mid-range jumper in the process. Though it doesn’t automatically translate into results in the actual season, his impact over the summer should do something for DeRozan’s confidence, and the up-tempo attack the Raps featured in those four games should be similar to what they’ll be looking to execute in in the regular season. Along with his buds Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson, DeRozan is part of a quick, athletic young core.
2009-10: 77 games (65 starts), 21.6 minutes per game, 49.8% from the field, 76.3% from the line, 8.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.56 steals per game.
What to expect: Plenty more opportunity to make an impact, for sure. If his play from the summer translates, DeRozan could average up to 15 points per game. With experience, hopefully he’ll develop into a wing player that can create for teammates and become an impact player defensively, as well. With his athleticism, the sky is the limit.