As face of the Toronto Raptors, perennial All Star DeMar DeRozan established himself as a solid No. 1 option on a competitive team. Now, as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, DeRozan has the opportunity to take his game to the next level.
One thing shooting guard DeMar DeRozan can depend on already is the support of head coach Gregg Popovich. San Antonio dealt for DeRozan with knowledge of both his strengths and his shortcomings, nothing will surprise them. The team will work around his issues and build a DeRozan-friendly system of play.
Adjusting shouldn’t be a problem for the Spurs, who’ve managed to keep their 20-year playoff streak alive by transitioning between multiple star plays such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.
Still, Popovich will have expectations for DeRozan. There’ll be many skills to learn and obstacles to overcome in the approaching season. The 29-year old’s work ethic precedes him and the team will expect him to continue his growth and development into the ideal starting two-guard.
Now’s the time for DeRozan to make the leap from good player to great player. Here’s how.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 30, 2018
Next: Stepping Up His Game
Take it up a notch
Every great player shifts their game to another gear around the age of 30. This is when the player relies less on their athleticism and more on their skill, ability and understanding of the game. DeRozan’s still got a lot of gas left in the tank, but he’s going to need another level of growth to truly take advantage of his opportunity in San Antonio.
There’s a reputation preceding DeRozan that he crumbles in the face of adversity. The Spurs have built their dynasty by standing up to difficulties and tackling them head-on. After all he’s been through between his personal struggle with mental health, the abysmal playoff woes and his subsequent betrayal by the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan has the fuel to take another step.
The results are in! It was a close one, but DeMar DeRozan edged out LaMarcus for the fan’s expected leading scorer in San Antonio. https://t.co/8oCDiwTr4C
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) September 5, 2018
Lots of improvements could qualify for this next step in DeRozan’s career. Whether it be improved crunch time performance, three-point shooting, guard defense or a combination of the three, there are many paths to greatness for DeRozan at his current state.
The question is, which of these, if any, will it be? Any or all of the above would benefit him, but any kind of major improvement can really propel the Spurs to championship contention in the years to come.
Next: Taking Advantage of the Playoffs
Show out in the playoffs
Everyone who’s followed the NBA over the last decade could tell you that DeMar DeRozan is a world-class talent. His unique combination of physicality and shot creating ability on the wing allows him to score with ease while keeping defenders on their toes and attacking the boards like a player twice his size.
Now it’s time for DeRozan to take that level of competitiveness to the postseason. His will to win is clear as day in the regular season, but he has a negative track record when it comes to the postseason. His production consistently drops in the postseason compared to his exceptional regular season output often at the expense of his team.
His transition to San Antonio creates the chance for a clean slate. This is DeRozan’s chance to rescript the narrative about his ability to perform in the postseason. Western Conference competition will certainly be tough and there remains a strong possibility that he’ll face the same roadblock that’s plagued him for the last five years: Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Still, DeRozan has a strong and experienced supporting cast to help him get through the postseason and the chance at redemption alone may encourage him to increase his postseason numbers.
Next: Growing as a passer
Get others involved
In the 2017-2018 season, DeRozan averaged a career-high 5.2 assists per game. For a player whose history suggests a score-first mentality, this was a major breakthrough in creating a well-rounded game. His jump in the assist category was crucial in the Raptors’ bid for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and led to MVP Buzz for DeRozan.
This is a trend Popovich and the team would like to see continue. As general manager R.C. Buford constructed the new-look roster, depth and talent were clearly two major highlights for the coming season. By moving the ball and creating shots for others, DeRozan clears the way for teammates to set him up for shots of his own.
Furthermore, ball movement leads to open shots for all players. Defending DeRozan one-on-one is a difficult process already but defending his teammates on top of that adds a whole ‘nother level to his game.
Pick-and-rolls between DeRozan and All NBA talent LaMarcus Aldridge entices fans and spectators who’re aware of the two player’s offensive gravity. Off of a well-placed screen, DeRozan can create shots for himself, find Aldridge or draw defenders to create a look for another player on the wing.
Passing is always emphasized in Spurs basketball, so his developing skills as a playmaker confirms his fit with the squad even more.