Over the course of his last nine games, wing DeMar DeRozan is playing like the All-Star that the San Antonio Spurs hoped he would become.
Integrating veteran wing DeMar DeRozan into the San Antonio Spurs’ way wasn’t difficult from a personality standpoint. At the apex of his playing career with a track record of falling short in big moments, DeRozan joined a team that embraced him despite his shortcomings and saw his potential within the team’s power structure.
Replacing an MVP-caliber player put a tremendous amount of pressure on DeRozan in his first year and despite the criticisms, he stepped up to the plate by improving his playmaking and embracing the head coach Gregg Popovich’s teachings.
Now in his second year donning the silver and black, DeRozan is flourishing as an influential force in his team’s pursuit of a record-setting 23rd consecutive playoff berth. Though he didn’t begin the season quite as strong as Spurs fans would’ve hoped, DeRozan found his groove in the last nine games as his running mate LaMarcus Aldridge has begun spacing the floor for him at the three-point line.
San Antonio won five of its last nine games including seven games against playoff teams. During that stretch, DeRozan is averaging a dazzling 26.1 points on 64.1% shooting from the field, 33.3% shooting from deep and 88.7% from the charity stripe. In this era of basketball, scoring volume with efficiency of this caliber, especially without three-point prowess, is unheard of.
Ahead of a Summer in which DeRozan could be the best free agent on the market, the mid-range savant is transforming the conventions of the modern NBA by sticking to his style and thriving from it.
His passing has been invaluable, generating 5.3 assists per contest while also enabling his teammates to swing the ball for open looks. He’s also attacking the boards consistently and even had a few key defensive plays along the way.
DeRozan likely will never be able to live up to the hole left by perennial MVP-candidate Kawhi Leonard, but he’s certainly worthy of being looked at for an All-Star bid this year and, more importantly, could be the catalyst in getting his team back to the postseason where they’ll have a chance to defeat any opponent in a seven game series.
So what’s been different in these last nine games and how can the team build from it?