DeMar DeRozan wasn’t happy to be traded away from Toronto after committing to them long-term, but he is in a perfect situation with the San Antonio Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs were forced to trade Kawhi Leonard after his rift with the organization, but they were able to acquire another All-NBA player in the deal in DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan found out the hard way that there is no such thing as loyalty in professional sports.
Many pundits expected the Compton, California native to bolt for Los Angeles in free agency during the summer of 2016. Instead he signed a five-year extension to stay in Toronto through the prime of his career and essentially promised to be a Raptor for life.
The Raptors decided to trade DeRozan just two seasons into that five-year deal when the Spurs made Kawhi Leonard available in the trade market.
The four-time All-Star is on a mission this season as he told former teammate Serge Ibaka that he plans to drop 50 points on the Raptors when they match up in early January, and DeRozan also tweeted that “revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Revenge is a dish best served cold…
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) September 20, 2018
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Fortunately, DeRozan is in a perfect situation to make the Raptors look silly for trading him away.
The former USC Trojan dominates in the midrange and became a much better facilitator on the offensive end last season. Those are two traits that Gregg Popovich loves to see in his players and he can help DeRozan improve on those strengths this year in San Antonio.
The Spurs are also specially equipped to address DeRozan’s weaknesses.
The two-time All-NBA guard has never been a strong defender. He ranked 86th out of 109 shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus last season, and he hasn’t ranked in the top 50 at his position in that category since 2014-15.
However, we can expect him to improve on that end of the floor in San Antonio.
Throughout the years we’ve seen the Spurs acquire players who were thought to be liabilities on defense, but they’ve continued to rank in the top three in defensive rating for six straight seasons and those players always improve in Pop’s defensive scheme.
DeRozan has the size and length to become a solid defender, and I think the Spurs can help him become a positive defensive player this season.
DeRozan has never had a problem scoring throughout his NBA career, but he’s done so without any semblance of a three-point shot.
He started hot from deep last year, but he cooled off to shoot just 31 percent from behind the arc over the entire season.
I’m guessing DeRozan has spent a majority of his summer working with Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s best shooting coaches. In fact, Engelland is often credited with helping Kawhi Leonard dramatically improve his three-point shot.
If DeRozan can simply become a league-average shooter with the help of San Antonio’s coaching staff, he could unlock another level of his offensive game.
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While DeRozan may be upset to be sent packing from Toronto, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot to improve his game. I’m expecting him to have the best year of his career in a system that can accentuate his strengths and improve on a couple of his weaknesses.