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How DeMar DeRozan Is Changing His Game For The Better

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

DeRozan continues to have a career year with the Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan is currently having the best season of his young NBA career. The Toronto Raptors’ star shooting guard’s improved play this year is one of the main reasons why the team is ranked second in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 27-15 record. He is averaging 23.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game this season and is only going to get better.

While DeRozan has improved in multiple areas of his game, the 26-year-old’s most significant change is that he is attacking the basket more now than in any of his previous six seasons.

He’s growing up — three years ago, he probably [would] have gotten rattled and missed a shot, but now he’s playing through contact,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said regarding DeRozan. “Now if he doesn’t get a call, he completes the play, continues to attack, get to the paint, and good things happen. That’s the maturing of his game.”

DeRozan’s ability to drive to the hoop allows him to draw fouls at an extremely high rate. He can attack the basket from any angle and is very skilled at tricking defenders into leaving their feet and fouling him. This lethal combination has directly contributed to DeRozan averaging a career-high 8.3 free throw attempts per game. Only James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins average more trips to the line per game. Fortunately for the Raptors, their 2014 NBA All-Star is a solid free-throw shooter and is shooting over 84 percent from the charity stripe this season.

Another area of DeMar’s game that has improved since last season is his ability to create open shots for his teammates. This is the direct result of attacking the basket more. DeRozan is so talented at driving the lane that opposing teams cannot stop him with just one defender. Whenever help defenders would step up to guard him last season, DeRozan would choose to still go up with the shot more often than he should have. This led to his two-point field goal percentage being 41 percent that season.  This season, by not shooting as many contested shots in the paint, his two-point field goal percentage has improved to over 46 percent.

It’s easy for me because that’s our guy, that’s our scorer,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said of Derozan. At the end of the day I get him the ball and he makes plays. It’s about getting him in a position to be successful. It makes my job a lot easier when you have a guy who can get you 10 assists or 30 points.” The All-Star is currently averaging a career-high 4.3 assists per game.

Finally, DeRozan has found an additional way of taking smarter shots. He is limiting the number of three-point shots he attempts per game. A career 27 percent three-point shooter, DeRozan now attempts less than two threes per game, as opposed to an unnecessary 2.7 attempts on average during the 2014-15 season. He has wisely put a majority of his focus coming into the season on taking high-percentage shots and on finishing through contact. 

To better depict DeRozan’s smart shot selections this season, see the video below to watch him explode for 34 points against the Boston Celtics earlier this month.

It’s second nature now; a lot of things never need to be said,” DeRozan said regarding the chemistry he has with his teammates. “It’s just a feel for things, something that comes with years of playing and knowing each other’s games.” 

Edited by William Ledy, Ben Moore.

Up until the 2015-16 season, how many NBA teams has Demar DeRozan played for?
Created 1/21/16
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