The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is hot, red hot to start the 2016-17 NBA season and heading into Friday night’s tilt against the Miami HEAT he leads the NBA in scoring at 36.3 points per game.
Criticized as a volume shooter, something that’s become less true the longer he’s played in the league, this season he’s taken his polished mid-range game to new heights and connecting on an NBA best among guards of 55.4 percent. That’s finishing more like a paint bound big man than a perimeter player and in part he’s doing it by limiting his three-point attempts to just 1.5 per game. On Wednesday in Washington, DeRozan made his first three-point shot of the young season. The result of this shot discipline has been 145 points on just 101 field goal attempts in his first four games.
DeRozan isn’t alone in having a hot start to the season.
OKC star guard Russell Westbrook was ahead of him in points per game until running into Golden State on a back-to-back last night. Russell only managed 20 points facing the Western Conference Champs and his old teammate Kevin Durant to drop his scoring average to “just” 34.2 points per game.
Pelicans star Anthony Davis kicked off the season with a 50 point night and was just slightly ahead of DeRozan in points scored after four games, but he came crashing back down to earth in his first back-to-back set a couple of days ago with a 10 point effort in Memphis as the Pelicans lost their fifth game of the season (0-5).
Other scoring leaders like DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, James Harden and Kevin Durant have been just off the pace so far, but not that far off.
DeRozan is yet to have anything remotely like an off night and this early in the season, he can’t have one and stay on top in the NBA scoring race. Last year he averaged 29.3 points against Miami during the regular season, but in Toronto he upped that to 35.5 points. This version of the HEAT is missing Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, although DeRozan may have to deal with his old teammate James Johnson.
Another big night for DeRozan seems likely on Friday.