San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan has earned an extension with this team. He should be apart of the Spurs’ future for years to come.
The tentative date of October 20 will be a huge day for the San Antonio Spurs. That’s the final day for players to decide whether or not they are opting-in to their contracts is set to take place on that Tuesday afternoon. The weather will be much cooler in San Antonio, and we might even get an orange leaf or two. Regardless of the hot summer finally being out of the way, even greater news should come — The news that DeMar DeRozan is planning to opt-in to his player option for the 2020-21 NBA season with hopes that San Antonio can progress into a long-term deal with the Star Wing.
Despite what analytics will tell you, he’s truly one of the best offensive players we have in the NBA today. Regardless of the omission of his three-point shot since he’s debuted with the Silver and Black, his high-level of play has been on display on the floor for San Antonio night-in and night-out.
The San Antonio Spurs are a better team with DeMar DeRozan on the floor. If his remarkable 2019-20 campaign wasn’t enough, you can look at the way DeRozan has contorted his game to benefit a subpar cast around him through his first two seasons in San Antonio. The overall offensive arsenal he brings to a Spurs team that desperately needed it comes a bit under the radar for most spectators. His impact and importance to this team go beyond what advanced stats like to dismiss.
"The loyalty that these fans have shown… they hold us down."
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) August 14, 2020
His value to this franchise in terms of “the now” is obvious and evident, and later down the line, the same could be said. With this last season, new challenges arose for DeRozan and in both seasons in San Antonio, he’s owned up to the task.
For a city that hasn’t been through a true rebuild since the days before David Robinson, the future can look very bleak. Unless a Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, or Luka Doncic lands in San Antonio to begin making a guy like DeRozan expendable, moving off an offensive juggernaut like DeMar would set back a rebuild for a franchise that’s looking to gain traction in this decade.
If you’re looking to rebuild this Spurs team, moving off of your best and most valuable player with no true star in the background is moronic. After looking at San Antonio’s roster construction, even with the addition of a late lottery pick, DeRozan should be locked up in a Spurs uniform for years to come.
Next: A look at DeRozan's offensive prowess
DeMar DeRozan’s amazing offensive play with the San Antonio Spurs:
The San Antonio Spurs’ primary facilitator, primary scoring option, highest usage-rate player, the primary overall offensive player is DeMar Darnell DeRozan. In a league that focuses on offensive firepower more than anything on the defensive end of the floor, DeRozan’s offensive contributions cannot be brushed over. The overall positive impact he’s had on the Spurs’ offense for the past two seasons is astonishing.
The Spurs’ leader in scoring, assists, and steals during the past two seasons has been DeMar DeRozan. He’s tied with LaMarcus Aldridge for both field-goal percentage and two-point field goal percentage while remaining close to identical in total defensive rebounds with the big-man.
As it pertains to his peers, DeRozan is one of the NBA’s elite offensively. Ranking in the 92nd percentile in terms of his Isolation play offensively, DeMar brings it on every play.
DeRozan ranks higher in isolation percentile than guys like James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker and Damian Lillard. He’s also one of the more dynamic players driving to the basket, averaging more points and assists off of drives to the cup than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Harden, Booker, Donovan Mitchell, and more.
Coupling that is his great importance to this team in the clutch. DeRozan is one of the best players in the NBA in clutch situations. He is shooting fifty percent from the field, which is better than Lillard, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, and more. DeRozan is also scoring more points in clutch situations than Bradley Beal, Tatum, Leonard, and LeBron James.
Only one player in Spurs history with 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 800 assists in his first two seasons in San Antonio:
— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) August 1, 2020
DeRozan has been a model player in San Antonio for the past couple of seasons. Going as far as changing positions and his overall playstyle, DeRozan is shooting fewer shots than he did in Toronto while averaging career-highs in rebounds and assists. His assist and rebound totals are at their peak while in San Antonio as he shows off his versatility. In this time, Derozan has set career-highs in a game in both categories during his Spurs tenure. Do-it-all DeMar does it again.
Number 10 is also shooting career-highs from the field as well, truly showing his overall versatility on the floor and quite frankly getting better with age. Considering the lack of high-caliber talent on this roster supporting him, DeMar has lived up to expectations and in many aspects far exceeded what you’d hope for.
This version of DeRozan in San Antonio has been as efficient and elite as they come. Among players averaging 22 points or more, Deebo is shooting the fewest shots per game at the highest field-goal percentage. Shooting a whopping 53 percent from the field, only Bucks megastar Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots a higher percentage from the floor of players averaging 22 points or more.
Earlier in the season, DeMar DeRozan said he was at the "lowest point of his career" and couldn't fit into the offense. He then reached out to Kobe and asked for advice.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 7, 2020
DeRozan’s run in San Antonio has been lights-out on the offensive end. With plenty of routes to display his offensive greatness, you can point to his twenty-four game stretch of 26.1 points per game on over 57 percent shooting. His 102 consecutive game stretch of scoring in double-figures for the Spurs made him the fourth player in franchise history to score 3,000 points in his first two seasons with the team. He is the only player in Spurs History to total 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 800 assists in his first two seasons.
At age 31, DeRozan’s game continues to blossom with every new ask of the Spurs coaching staff. Shooting at or near career highs in shots between 0-10 feet of the basket and throwing away at a near career-low, the forsaken long two’s, DeMar has and will continue to show progression. He’s done this by relying on technique, footwork and IQ above all else.
Next: A look at DeRozan's defensive effort
DeMar DeRozan’s admirable defensive effort with the San Antonio Spurs:
While we can go on about his offensive arsenal, the defensive end of the floor is where most have the biggest bones to pick with DeRozan’s play. The biggest knock on his play on this end is a combination of complaints. From “he’s just not good enough!” to some questioning of his effort on that end.
San Antonio knows DeMar DeRozan isn’t going to be your best defensive player on the floor. They didn’t bring in the former All-NBA player to be a re-creation of Kawhi Leonard. Considering he’s also getting older, his wear and tear on the defensive end, and what many believe the “minus” he brings, he won’t be asked to be an insurmountable impact on that end.
While I won’t argue whether or not DeMar DeRozan is Scottie Pippen on the wing when it comes to defense. I will say, the overall outcry for improvements for DeRozan defensively is a bit of a reach. In terms of his isolation defense, he gives up 1.16 points per possession. That ranks him in the ’60s among the NBA.
There’s room for improvement here surely, but the frequency of DeMar in isolation defense situations is next to none. He averages just 0.5 possessions per game where he’s an isolation defender with a frequency of just six percent. That ranks him in the 300’s in actual isolation defense situations.
For reference, guys with similar frequency rates/possessions per game in isolation defense situations include Danny Green, Paul George, T.J. Warren, Justise Winslow, Robert Covington and Beal. All of these players allow higher points given up per possession and higher scoring frequencies than DeMar DeRozan.
Continuing with the defensive outcry, most of DeMar’s defense possessions come from when he’s defending the Pick and Roll ball-handler. With a 29.5 percent frequency rate, Deebo allows only 0.84 points per possession and a scoring frequency of under forty percent. He’s among the better half of the league as a P&R defender, ranking in the 62nd percentile in the NBA.
Lastly, as it pertains to his defense off-ball defense whether it be his defense off screens, where he ranks in the 89 percentile or Spot-Up situations, his scoring frequencies & Points Per Possession are in the same range as guys like Mitchell, Marcus Morris Sr., Jae Crowder, and Russell Westbrook.
Surely, nobody is proclaiming that he is the second coming of Michael Jeffrey Jordan, or in your ear, locking you up like Gary Payton, but he is beyond serviceable and competent on that end of the floor.
Next: The extension conversation
The case for the San Antonio Spurs extending DeMar DeRozan:
Hate it or love it, the Spurs are a better team with DeMar DeRozan on the floor. Despite the overwhelming evidence that he is among the NBA’s elite offensive players, he’s also a competent defensive player. Similarly to what you see on most NBA nights, the opposing team’s best player rarely if ever defends your team’s best player throughout a game.
You couple that with the fact that solid defenders like Derrick White and Dejounte Murray take that role, the “minus” he brings on that end of the floor surely will not be felt. And once again, DeMar shows how he can adjust his game to better suit the needs of the team as he did in the NBA’s bubble. The common assessment for DeMar’s impact on the floor is that he’s a career “minus” player.
While nobody believes Toronto or San Antonio would’ve been better with their second-string SG/SF on the floor instead of DeMar, that notion was a bit thrown off-track after the Spurs’ bubble run this past Summer. DeRozan was a “plus” in months July and August for the first time since the Spurs’ Rodeo Road Trip back in February.
In Orlando, he showed off his unique offensive arsenal of passing, patience, and IQ. DeRozan let the younger talent make mistakes and shoot the rock just to insert himself as the “4th quarter killer.”
DeRozan’s leadership and overall presence are evident. His overall benefit to the young guys on the team may not show up on the stat sheet, but it’s something that he accounts for. The ability to elevate players around him and still end up with a 5-2 record in the bubble despite missing two starters is just a taste of what the Spurs can get if they fully trust DeRozan for years on end.
The ability to continuously shift his game to benefit the team, to take quarters and possessions to get the other players around him involved and essentially come through when needed most is something you can’t expect from many former All-NBA players. The ego, selflessness to put their pride aside for the betterment of the team in itself is an accomplishment for many.
To competently kick off this Spurs retooling, moving off their most valuable player, and their best player doesn’t make any sense. The San Antonio Spurs currently don’t have a player on the roster who can create consistent offense for themselves and others throughout a season, you’ve seen multiple times throughout DeRozan’s tenure.
360 layup from DeMar DeRozan??pic.twitter.com/ScsMEeyfcQ
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 3, 2020
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With players like Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, Luka Samanic, and to an extent, Keldon Johnson, thrusting them into a full-time role won’t help develop them in the best manner. Teams that do this find themselves in the lottery every year, praying for the No. 1 lottery ball to land in their hands.
A Spurs team without Deebo instantly puts the young guys in a spot where they will have to learn on the fly. There isn’t going to be a consistent shot-creator, a consistent shot-maker on this roster without DeRozan. Without one of the leagues’ most efficient offensive players who accounts for so much outside of scoring, you’re putting your young players in a position to fail.
Lastly, without DeMar DeRozan, you’re losing a top 30 player in the NBA today. While the hopes are high for the plethora of young players on the Spurs roster, there’s no guarantee one will become a four-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA player like DeMar.
Why would the model of consistency like San Antonio, lose out on its only consistent member of the roster?