Pierce through the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook fog and you’ll see DeMar DeRozan is doing some special things that has him in the top 5 of the MVP race. The Raptors are 7-2 and DeRozan is the reason why. He is the team’s best player and every night he is putting on an explosion. Like his idol Kobe Bryant, DeRozan is ten times better than every person trying to stop him. And like Bryant, DeRozan isn’t jacking up meaningless shots to pad his stats. He is getting to his spots and delivering.
Need more convincing?
He leads the NBA in scoring with 34.0 points, a career high. He is the only shooting guard making 52% of his shots; his 52.8% is a career high. His 54.9% makes of 2-point shots is a career high. His 10.0 free throw attempts and 8.1 free throw makes is a career high. His 4.8 rebounds is a career high. His 1.4 steals is a career high. His achievements come while playing 37.1 minutes.
No NBA player has mastered perfection so there are some red flags. DeRozan is turning the ball over more than he ever has and his 3-point shooting, the second worst of his career, is simply pathetic, 21.4%. His usage rate is 37.5% and he’s taking 24 shots a game. He is not exactly making other players better, just himself. When he has an off night, the Raptors are in trouble. He missed 16 of 28 shots against the Cavs and the Raptors lost. But in a ridiculously skewed way, that only solidifies his MVP talk. He is carrying the Raptors. He is the one Raptor everyone has to stop. Only the defending champs have a recipe.
Even as DeRozan’s offensive rating is a ridiculous 118, his defensive rating is tied for his career best 108.
|Age 27||Points||FG%||Assists||Rebounds||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating|
|Kobe Bryant, 2005-06||35.4||45.0%||4.5||5.3||114||105|
|DeMar DeRozan, 2016-17||34.0||52.8%||3.2||4.8||118||108|
Where he is destroying people is with his improved midrange. He is shooting 64.3% 10-16 feet, a career high. Last year he was 41.5% from that distance. Before this year, his best mark from that area was his rookie year when he made 46.5% of his midrange shots.
He is also feasting on long two’s. 50% from just within the arc. His career best before this season was three years ago, 39.5%.
DeMar DeRozan has gotten better. If his stats stay consistent, that is a scary proposition for defenders.
The knock on Compton native DeRozan was that he was an iso player who had a variety of shots within the three point line but he went through scoring droughts. He was a volume shooter. He deferred to Kyle Lowry and he was never going to be Kobe Bryant. There was a lot of shade thrown at DeRozan in regards to his toughness. No one denied his shot making but did he have the mental will?
In the playoffs, DeRozan has been a disaster. His playoff shooting numbers are 38.5%, 40.0% and 39.4%, not exactly making anyone think DeRozan can carry a team to a title. But forget that for a minute. The MVP nod is for the regular season. And in this regular season DeRozan has a PER of 31.5. That’s a Steph Curry MVP number. DeRozan has a near 59.4% True Shooting metric. That’s a Steph Curry MVP number.
He dropped 40 on opening night, shooting 63% against the Pistons. A Raptor win by 18. He made 60% of his shots on the road in D.C. against Bradley Beal. The Raptors won by 10. He was cooly efficient in Oklahoma City, shooting 59%. The Raptors won by 10. He is stirring the Raptors drink. Who knew that after getting paid DeRozan would take his game to another level.
When DeRozan signed the second largest contract in NBA history, this after a pathetic playoff performance, there were a lot of doubters. It wasn’t his talent. It wasn’t his age. DeRozan is entering his prime. He can score. He has the Kobe game down pat. The fadeaway. The mid rage catch and shoot. The step back. The jab step. He learned from the master. But DeRozan isn’t as selfish on the court as Kobe was and he isn’t the leader Kobe was and he isn’t the defender Kobe was. But DeRozan took that money and he did what few players do. He let it motivate him to do more, to come back stronger, to vault himself to the top of the class of shooting guards.
|MVP 2017?||Points||FG%||Win %||PER||Offensive Rating|
Klay Thompson has the top shooting guard spot and he should. He has a title. He has been consistent in his career. He plays a team game and still thrives. But DeRozan is making a case for being the second best shooting guard, better than James Harden. Harden has moved over to the point this season but his defense is still disinterested. Harden is posting the worst defensive rating in his career. Can Harden be worse than last year? I suppose when Mike D’Antoni is your coach the answer is yes.
Move DeRozan to the top of the shooting guard class, second best in the NBA. And move him into the MVP race. He is deserving. DeMar DeRozan has taken the Kobe shooting guard torch and is doing just fine, thank you very much. An All-Star nod is coming. Winning the MVP isn’t a crazy DeMar DeRozan pipe dream either.
photo via llananba