Overlooked and underappreciated, San Antonio Spurs leader DeMar DeRozan’s season was certainly worth consideration for an All-NBA team.
Efficiency is the name of the game for San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan. During his second season with the team, his individual output skyrocketed far beyond anything he’s done before despite his team’s playoff streak being cut after 22 seasons. You can’t miss the playoffs and leave your star blameless, but he seemed to have done everything in his power to make it work.
Had the Spurs made the playoffs, his chances to make a third All-NBA team would’ve been significantly higher. However, getting traded to a historically great franchise and then falling out of relevancy midway through the season doesn’t bode well for the masses of public opinion. You, the Spurs fans, know what DeRozan truly meant to this team. Maybe it wouldn’t be right to give him a spot, but he at least deserves to receive votes for an All-NBA team.
Upon the completion of the season, DeRozan became the first guard to average at least 22 points per game on 52+ percent shooting (53.1%, to be exact) since Michael Jordan himself in 1991. Around the start of the new year, DeRozan went on a hot streak that set his name amongst the greatest of all-time. He sits behind Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak with 20+ points and 3+ assists on at least 50 percent shooting from the field. Just behind him on that list are Jordan, Larry Bird and Chris Mullin.
— NBA (@NBA) January 30, 2020
Leadership comes in many forms. Some are quiet leaders who show their teammates how to act instead of telling them. Others are vocal, taking teammates to the side to explain what they’re seeing and instill better values. DeRozan does both and the Spurs’ young core is better because of it. That’s what he was brought to Military City, U.S.A. to do and he’s fulfilled his role splendidly.
There are two players whose cases for the All-NBA third team could be considered questionable compared with DeRozan: Sixers ball-handler Ben Simmons and former MVP Russell Westbrook. Each of these players let their limitations get in the way of their team’s success, causing an ultimate downfall in the postseason after underperforming in the regular season.
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Simmons’ defense gives him a solid case for the All-NBA team — Especially after ranking near the top of the NBA in steals. However, Westbrook regressed as a defender and shot terrible for most of the year besides a solid run in the middle of the season. Since returning, Westbrook was a detriment to his team unlike DeRozan, who elevated everyone around him in the Orlando restart.
Granted, the All-NBA teams weren’t supposed to be based on Orlando bubble performances, it’ll all be remembered regardless of the hiatus. DeRozan was a more impactful and helpful player for his team than Westbrook was for Houston. I’d argue there’s a case that Milwaukee’s No. 2, Khris Middleton deserved it over Russ, but that’s a different conversation entirely.
DeRozan is going to remain an under-the-radar star. He gets a lot of mud thrown on his name because of the Kawhi trade and a few playoff blunders before his time with the San Antonio Spurs. Those who stayed loyal to the team and watched him play saw his impact first-hand. He’s not a perfect player, but DeRozan played at an All-NBA caliber level from start to finish this season.
By this point, I’m sure he’s getting used to the treatment that the San Antonio Spurs are used to from a national viewpoint: Overlooked and underappreciated.