Title: Is DeMar DeRozan playing his best basketball as a Toronto Raptor?
Date: November 22, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I tried to put DeMar DeRozan’s hot start in context relative to his career as a Raptor and answer whether this is the best he’s ever played.
There are two annual traditions when it comes to Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan: Pre-season analysis slighting him, thereby providing additional #ProveEm fuel for the year to come, and DeRozan improving markedly in some facet of his game.
DeRozan’s rise from moderately controversial No. 9 overall draft pick to inefficient volume scorer to all-star has been told ad nauseam, but it warrants continued retelling because DeRozan is not done extending the story of his evolution. Every year, it seems DeRozan has maximized his physical tools or his style of play, and yet every year he promises to come back better — and then does so. He transformed his body, he spent a summer using only his left hand to become more versatile, and so on. That some continue to be skeptical about his capacity for positive change and his fit in the modern NBA may say more about our collective imagination than DeRozan. While the world is in constant search of the next great unicorn, DeRozan is a peregrine falcon, staving off extinction despite long odds.
All of this is to say: DeRozan is off to a very good start to his 2017-18 season. Armed with more experience navigating traps and blitzes, and equipped with a heavy focus on creating for others, DeRozan has been the driving force of the Raptors’ third-ranked offence and early culture change, carrying the load as Kyle Lowry eases into his altered role, and bringing along a host of new, young or unfamiliar talent as a co-point guard of sorts. His scoring is down only slightly on a per-minute basis, his efficiency has climbed with a slightly lesser usage, and DeRozan’s even sniffing the vaunted 25-5-5 mark.