How can the Spurs get DeMar DeRozan to let it fly from behind the arc?

DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Is there anything the San Antonio Spurs can do to convince DeMar DeRozan to start shooting three-pointers?

In a season full of frustrations, few things have been as consistent for the San Antonio Spurs as DeMar DeRozan‘s refusal to shoot three-pointers. As the season has progressed we have seen DeRozan continue to utterly ignore shots from behind the arc. Is there anything the San Antonio Spurs can do to convince him to change that?

DeRozan’s hesitancy to shoot three-pointers is nothing new. He’s averaged just 1.5 three-point shots per game throughout his career. That being said, he’s almost completely abandoned the idea of shooting three’s for the Spurs.

In his first season in San Antonio, DeRozan attempted just 45 shots from behind the arc in 77 games. He’s on a similar pace this year, attempting just 19 three-pointers in the 1,012 minutes that he has played this season. For perspective, Iman Shumpert joined the Brooklyn Nets mid-season and has already 33 shots from behind the arc in the 241 minutes he’s played.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that DeMar is very aware of his pattern of ignoring looks from deep. As he told Tom Osborn with the San Antonio Express-News it’s just a matter of getting good looks and letting it go.

“I just don’t shoot ‘em. It’s not a matter of I can’t shoot ‘em, just never shoot them. But whenever I get the opportunity, I am going to shoot them. I don’t mind missing, I don’t mind whatever. It’s just a matter of me shooting ‘em.”

Compare what DeRozan’s saying about his hesitancy to shoot three’s with what we’ve actually seen this year and you’ll soon see that things don’t exactly line up. There have been more than a few times when he’s got the ball with a relatively clean look at the basket from behind the arc and has chosen to dribble in for a mid-range two.

And look, I get it, he’s a Kobe acolyte and one of the most dangerous mid-range scorers of his generation. But in a season where San Antonio has been dead last in three-pointers attempted as a team, it’s maddening to see one of the best players on the team repeatedly turn down what should be an open look for a more highly contested one worth fewer points.

Put an incentive for 3-point attempts into DeRozan's next contract.

— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) December 27, 2019

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In the clip above you’ll see DeRozan get two opportunities at open looks from behind the arc. Dorian Finney-Smith is coming at him but DeRozan had more than enough time to let it fly in the first instance and could have easily created more separation in the second in order to get a look off from deep.

Instead of taking the open shots, DeRozan instead chooses to dribble in and miss a contested mid-range jumper in one instance and turns the ball over in the other. To be fair, DeRozan isn’t the most accurate shooter when he does shoot three-pointers. Maybe it has less to do with the distance he’s shooting from and more with the area of the floor.

Over the course of his career, DeRozan has been significantly more accurate on three-point attempts from the corner than he has from above the break. Makes sense, the shorter corner three should is typically one that shooters hit consistently. So why is he making them a smaller part of his game?

Last year DeRozan attempted 49 percent of his three-pointers from the corners. He’s down to just 26 percent this year. It bears mentioning again that he’s only attempted 19 shots from behind the arc all year but even still, that’s a trend that needs to be reversed as soon as possible.

DeMar has hit on 40 percent of his attempts from the left corner three throughout his career. As they go forward it would be nice to see the Spurs set him up for a few more opportunities to cash in from a position that he’s proven he can hit from.

He’s 30 years old and has built an All-Star career on his mastery of the mid-range, it’s unlikely that DeRozan changes his game in any large way at this point of his career. Were not asking him to become a member of the Splash Bro’s, just that he works with the coaching staff to generate a few more looks from deep per game, and that he actually take the open looks when they’re available for him.

Next. It’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to set DeMarre Carroll free

Maybe Gregg Popovich can take a page out of Jimmy Butler‘s book and start offering DeMar $500 for every game that he shoots a three. At this point, no options should be off the table when it comes to improving the San Antonio Spurs season.