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NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named 4-Time Player Of The Week

Press Release:

The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 20-26. He earns the honor for a franchise record-setting fourth time this season – November 7-13, December 12-18, January 9-15 and March 20-26. Prior to this season, DeRozan had won the award once during his eight-year NBA career (December 7-13, 2015).

DeRozan topped all Eastern Conference players averaging 33.3 points, while leading the Raptors to a perfect 3-0 record. He shot .488 (39-for-80) from the field, .769 (20-for-26) at the free throw line and averaged 5.7 assists.

DeRozan began the week by scoring 42 points during the Raptors’ 122-120 overtime victory March 21 versus Chicago. He scored 27 points in the second half and overtime, helping the Raptors rally from a 16-point deficit. DeRozan then scored 40 points March 23 at Miami as part of Toronto’s NBA-leading and franchise-record 19th double-digit comeback win, 101-84. He finished the week with an 18-point performance March 25 at Dallas, helping Toronto secure a playoff berth in four straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.

DeRozan, a native of Compton, California, currently ranks fifth in the NBA averaging a career-high 27.1 points through 66 games this season. The three-time NBA All-Star was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft and became the franchise’s all-time leader in career points (11,223), field goals made (3,991), free throws made (3,009) and games played (587) earlier this season.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors All-Stars Lowry And DeRozan Are Asking For Help

Mired in a 4-10 streak and watching team after team pass them in the standings, the Toronto Raptors All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are asking for help. No one is mentioning names or blame, but the only one that can help them in the immediate future is president Masai Ujiri.

It’s as much how the team is losing games as how many they’ve lost. In the first half of the season the Raptors went 28-13 and lost seven of those games by five points or less. While the result was positive, how they were losing was raising concerns from head coach Dwane Casey even then. In their next 10 losses, seven more were by five points or less and were punctuated by blowing double-digit leads to teams well below them in the standings.

Injuries, rehab assignments, and playing rookies aside, Lowry and DeRozan have a right to be very concerned.

“Something got to give, something got to change,” Lowry said after the one-point loss to the Pistons. “I have an idea, but I am going to keep my mouth shut, keep it professional. I am starting to get worried. It’s not going the way it’s supposed to be going and things aren’t changing, so I am starting to get worried.”

“Help is always beneficial,” DeRozan said. “I never looked at help as a negative thing. If help is an option, why not?”

Patrick Patterson has missed 13 games because of a sore knee since the New Year, but things weren’t much better in the games he has played since then, so even when he returns healthy – probably post All-Star break – there won’t be a lot of confidence that it will be enough to swing the tide.

The best help would come from the outside via trade. An impact player who could shore up the Raptors porous defense or become a legitimate third scoring option and preferably both.

Ujiri likes to take his time and land the best deal possible, but maybe this time he needs to pull the trigger early and pay a little more. The Raptors players haven’t looked this disheartened since before the Rudy Gay trade in 2013. They need help now.
 

 

 
 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Joins DeMar DeRozan As 3-Time All-Star

NBA coaches have affirmed what everyone was expecting, the Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry will be joining his backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan as a three-time All-Star in New Orleans.

This will be Lowry’s third appearance in a row at the NBA All-Star Game. This year he is averaging career highs in points (22.4), field goal percentage (46.9%), three-point makes, attempts and shooting percentage (3.2/7.5, 42.2%).

Lowry, voted in as a reserve, joins All-Star starter DeRozan who will also be appearing in an NBA All-Star Game for the third time. The Raptors starting shooting guard is averaging a career high 27.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named NBA East Player Of The Week

On the last day for NBA All-Star fan voting, the NBA has announced that the Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played January 9-15. DeRozan finished the week averaging 30.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 87.5 percent at the free throw line.

The Raptors defeated three division rivals during the week. DeRozan scored a season-high 41 points during Toronto’s 114-106 victory over Boston. He led the team with 28 points as the Raptors set a franchise-record 132 points in a non-overtime game against the Nets. Then he finished the week with 23 points versus New York in a 116-101 win.

DeRozan is the first player in team history to win the honor three times in the same season. He also won the award for games played November 7-13 and December 12-18. Previously Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry had been named player of the week twice in the same season for Toronto.

Currently leading the East with 1,122 points scored, DeRozan tied a career high with 12 consecutive games with 20-or-more points in Sunday’s game against the Knicks.

 

 

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NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Celtics Beat Writer Sees Kobe Bryant In DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan has been making a big impression on the NBA this season and nothing illustrates this point better than when a beat writer from the Raptors division rival Celtics starts comparing him to the master of the midrange Kobe Bryant.

In a rambling weekend piece well worth the read covering the 76ers, Raptors, George Karl and more, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes,

DeRozan is averaging a career-best 28.2 points per game in shooting 47.4 percent from the field. The All-Star has mastered his midrange game, something many of his peers have not.

Another standout scorer who excelled at the midrange game was Kobe Bryant. He was the master of the 2-point shot, which were created by brilliant footwork that allowed him space to score.

“[DeRozan] was a student of Kobe, watching Kobe growing up. His footwork, he emulated him. I know a few years ago we got some tapes of Kobe in his iso situations, so yes, that has a lot to do with his production and his efficiency,” (Raptors head coach) Casey said.

“He’s not getting sped up by the defense, double teams don’t bother him anymore. He can make good decisions out of double teams.”

DeRozan’s play does look different this year. He is doing the same things, he’s just doing them better (career best 55.6 TS%), more often (career high 21.4 shots per game) and with more confidence (28.2 points per game is almost 10 points above his career average).

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

Raptors Lowry And DeRozan Need More Fans In All-Star Voting

The initial fan All-Star voting returns are in and just like last year, Eastern Conference guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are out of the top two in the preliminary returns. (Results as of January 5th below).

All-Star voting

 

Last year Kyle Lowry became just the third player in Toronto Raptors team history to be voted an NBA All-Star starter when he finished second among Eastern Conference guards in fan balloting with 646,441 votes. But, it took a late rally by the Raptors fans to overcome a deficit of more than 30,000 votes to help Lowry get in. (see NBA All-Star fan voting in 2016 below)

To-date the Raptors have spent the entire voting period on a western conference road trip while the Air Canada Centre was taken over for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, so basketball hasn’t been uppermost on Canadian’s minds. However, that is all about to change with the Raptors at home for 5 of the next 6 games.

It is going to take another big push by the local fanbase to get one of the Raptors guards into the top two of fan voting for Eastern Conference guards. However, winning the fan vote isn’t the only deciding factor this year. The fan vote counts for 50% with the other half split between a media panel and NBA players, but it’s unlikely a player outside of the top five in the fan vote has a chance.

The next fan voting update is Thursday, January 12th and voting ends on Monday, January 16th at 11:59 p.m. E.T.

Voting is easy. NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through Twitter and Facebook using the player’s first and last name with #NBAVOTE, NBA.com, the NBA App and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China.

The 2017 All-Star Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, January 19th during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. E.T.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Jonas Valanciunas Kyle Lowry 2016 media day

NBA News: Toronto Raptors Are Contenders

Surprisingly, though, it is the Raptors who enter play on December 27 as the NBA’s top-ranked team in offensive efficiency—not the Warriors, not the Cavaliers and not the Spurs.

Simply? The Raptors are benefiting from continuity and chemistry. Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are in their fifth season together and the pieces around them—Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll—fit within their system.

A few days after the Cavs scored one of their biggest wins of the season by defeating the Warriors, the Raptors enter play on December 27 trailing them by one game in the standings.

 

Source: Basketball Insiders Moke Hamilton

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Has Become An All-Time Toronto Sports Great

By Frank McLean

In my 32 years of covering the Toronto sports scene I have been privileged to have covered a hand full of special athletes and better still special people.

Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar with the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs Doug Gilmour and Matts Sundin, Mike “Pinball” Clemons and Doug Flutie of the Argos and of course Vince Carter with the Raptors.

You can add DeMar DeRozan to the list.

Over the offseason DeRozan became the highest paid professional athlete in Toronto sporting history, five years 137.3-million dollars. Oh yes let’s not forget a little trip to Rio in August where DeRozan and teammate Kyle Lowry were part of Team USA’s gold medal win at the Olympics.

With many athletes when they finally get that big paycheck they hit that comfort zone. Their money is guaranteed so why put out. Not with DeRozan.

His game keeps getting better.

He opened the season tying Michael Jordan’s NBA record to start a season with five straight games of 30-or-more points. He already has 15 games of 30-plus where last year he only did it 14 times and he is third in league scoring with a 28.4 average behind only Anthony Davis at 29.6 and Russell Westbrook’s 30.9.

It’s hard to imagine that over the last couple of years pundits and fans have tried to say he’s not worth a max contract.

But other people in the NBA think he’s worth the money.

Take for example these comments a few weeks ago from Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brent Brown when they were in town.

“It may a combination of getting older or taking responsibility when somebody pay’s you like they paid him and they are expecting results. When I listen to him do interviews and I watch him play he’s class. I think he has his head on his shoulders. I think he deserves the contract he was rewarded with. Anytime you can find someone that good on court or off court the city of Toronto should make sure they wrap their arms around him and don’t let him go anywhere.”

That last sentence is a big one from Brown.

Where Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Raptors first ever draft pick Damon Stoudmire all wanted to leave the 416, DeRozan never wanted to go anywhere else.

On Monday DeRozan was named Player Of The Week in the Eastern Conference for the second time this season.

The question at practice was why have you gotten better this year?

“If I had the answer I probably wouldn’t give it to you,” DeRozan said. “But I don’t have the answer. I just try to go out there and just play in the rhythm of what we do, be aggressive, just play my game. I think we all have a feel for one another, what we like to do with everybody’s strength and we always feed to that. I’ve got to give credit to my teammates for helping me be in a position in the game (to get his almost 30 points a night.)

The reason I think DeRozan is always getting better is his competitive streak. He never settles for what he is putting up on the boxscore. He is constantly working on his game. Ask any of the security guards at the Air Canada Centre it’s not unusual for him to be coming into the building at 11pm or midnight and heading up to the team’s old third floor practice facility just working on his game.

Those other Toronto athletes I mentioned at the start of this article all had that same driven mentality to always be better, always improving their game.

DeRozan heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets had scored 10,201 career points. That’s just 74 points behind Chris Bosh’s total while with Toronto of 10,275 for the title of Raptors all time leading scorer. He has played the most games of any player for the Raptors, is about to overtake Bosh in minutes played and by the end of the year DeRozan will pretty much own all the Raptors longevity and scoring records.

He deserves to be listed as one of Toronto’s all time greats.

 

 

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played December 12-18. This is the second time DeRozan has earned the honor this season (Nov. 7-13) and the third time overall in his eight-year career.

DeRozan led the NBA last week averaging 31.5 points and shot .605 (46-for-76) from the field in four games. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. DeRozan led the Raptors in all four games scoring at least 30 points and shooting .500 or better from the field as the team posted a 3-1 record.

DeRozan began the week with a game-high 30 points in a 122-100 win December 12 versus Milwaukee. He shot a perfect 15-for-15 at the free throw line, marking the second time this season he has a perfect free throw shooting game with 10 or more attempts. DeRozan recorded 31 points during the Raptors’123-114 win December 14 at Philadelphia, playing only the first three quarters. He followed up with 34 points in a 125-121 loss December 16 versus Atlanta. DeRozan finished the week posting a game-high 31 points December 18 at Orlando, helping the Raptors tie the franchise record with a fifth consecutive road victory.

DeRozan leads the Eastern Conference in scoring at 28.4 points per game and in field goals made with 274. He is the team’s all-time leader in games played and needs 74 points to become the team’s all-time leading scorer.

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan joins the NBA MVP race

It isn’t easy getting noticed North of the Border, but an 18-7 record and an historically great offensive rating is making the Toronto Raptors hard to ignore. After years of an improving offensive game, DeMar DeRozan has joined the elite scorers in the the NBA piling in a league fourth best 28 points per game and it’s finally gained him some love on the NBA’s Sekou Smith MVP Ladder.

7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

(Last week: NR)

DeRozan and the Raptors aren’t getting the love they deserve this season, but that ends now, at least around here. DeRozan has fueled the Raptors’ attack, scoring 30 or more points three times in his past five games. His ability to score in bunches without much production from beyond the 3-point line makes him stick out among his perimeter All-Star brethren around the league (28.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists in his last five games).

And that’s not the only place DeRozan is feeling some love from the usually oblivious media south of the border. Basketball Insiders Oliver Maroney has DeRozan a notch higher and he’s had the Raptors top scorer on his list for a while.

6. DeMar DeRozan (Last Week: 6)

DeRozan has been superb for the Raptors. What’s impressive is that his offensive game has been deemed inefficient by many, and yet he still continues to prove others wrong. The Raptors are playing some historically great offensive basketball and DeRozan is a significant reason why. Currently averaging just under 28 points per game, DeRozan is the most efficient guard within the top nine for league scoring. He’s also providing more assists than ever before, averaging almost two assists more than his career average. While DeRozan still hasn’t found his form from behind-the-arc, he’s still providing efficient offense on the second best team in the East.

The fun side of this welcome recognition for DeRozan will come from the nearly certain ribbing he’ll get from his good friend and backcourt partner Kyle Lowry. There is a strong case to be made that Lowry is the Raptors MVP this season, DeRozan’s scoring notwithstanding and these two players should both be getting some recognition outside of Toronto for potential MVP consideration. However, that’s just never going to happen from the stateside media who are more likely to watch anyone else play besides Toronto.

As Matt Moore of CBS Sports points out while relegating both Raptors to his MVP fifth tier list of “others”,

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: DeRozan’s scoring is slowly coming back to Earth, he’s now fifth in scoring after leading the league in points per game after the first month. Lowry has stepped up with a 21-5-7 line and the Raptors are clearly the second-best team in the East. Neither one of these guys is Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, but they are equally essential to the Raptors’ team success, and so they wind up hurting each other’s chances.

Even sitting a half game out of first place in the East can’t always get “We The North” the love they deserve down south.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

Raptors Claim NBA’s Top Offensive Rating From Warriors

Toronto Raptors defensive-minded head coach Dwane Casey would probably prefer to bury this news, but his team now has the top offensive rating in the NBA at 114.2 points per 100 possessions, tied with the high scoring Golden State Warriors.

Led by the Eastern Conference’s top scorer DeMar DeRozan (640 points) and the conference’s most prolific three-point maker Kyle Lowry (71 3FGM), the eighth slowest paced team in the NBA has been averaging 115.5 points over their past 10 games to score at the blistering rate of 120.6 per 100 possessions, that’s 4.3 points more than the Cavaliers and almost 6 points better than the fast-paced Warriors over this time period.

The Raptors haven’t exactly been forgetting about defense over this span either, coach Casey’s regular rants to the contrary notwithstanding. Over the past 10 games in which Toronto has gone 8-2, the Raptors have allowed 100.8 points for a differential of +14.7 points. On the season, the Raptors are outscoring their opponents by an Eastern Conference best +8.3 points. The Warriors led the West at +12 points.

This offensive surge has moved the Raptors up the NBA rankings in several key areas:

They are now fourth in scoring at 111 points per game, just behind the Rockets and Cavs, but well back of the Warriors (118).

At 47.5 percent shooting, they are second only to the Warriors at 49.8 percent.

Three point shooting at 39.4 percent as a team trails only the Spurs (40) and the Cavs (40.1).

The Raptors are the second best free throw shooting team in the NBA at 81.7 percent, with the third most makes (481) on the 10th most attempts (589).

Toronto leads the NBA in drive points per game at 22.3 on the sixth most attempts (30.7).

Although the Raptors bench often seems to take the heat for inconsistency locally, they have the highest Net Rating in the NBA by a wide margin at +14.1. The second place Spurs bench is +10.3 and the next best in the East is the Cavs bench at +4.1.

Coach Casey can point to one offensive stat that should make a defensive coach happy, the Raptors are third best at creating screen assists (12.6), just behind Charlotte and Golden State.

At 16-7, the Raptors are in the midst of another very good season and while the offensive numbers are impressive, Casey would rather see his team improve on their 15th ranked defensive rating (104.4). But it isn’t going to be easy when your team has the NBA’s second best Net Rating of +9.8 points per 100 possessions and they just keep on winning.

Note: the Eastern Conference’s first place Cavs defensive rating is ranked 17th at 104.7.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan True to the North

At 10,000 Points DeMar DeRozan Rewrites The Raptors Record Books

Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan re-upped with a new five year contract in July and if he lives up to his word, he’ll retire a Raptor and rewrite the franchise record book from cover to cover. On Monday night he became just the second player in franchise history to score 10,000 points with the team and if he maintains his current scoring pace, he’ll pass Chris Bosh (10,275 points) within the next 10 games.

The Raptors have never before enjoyed the level of success they have experienced during what should be called “the DeRozan Era” in Toronto. Drafted onto a Lottery Team in Bosh’s final season with the club, DeRozan was thrust into the spotlight far too soon on a team that wasn’t ready to win.

Give credit to former president Bryan Colangelo for draft picks, trades and hiring head coach Dwane Casey to lay a foundation that current president Masai Ujiri could build upon, but even more credit goes to DeRozan for not giving up (like so many former Raptors players before him) when the losing came easy and not leaving just as the franchise enjoyed their first real taste of success (ever) as he became an unrestricted free agent for his first time this past summer.

Now at the quarter pole of his eighth season in a Raptors uniform, DeRozan is about to lay waste to many current Raptors records. As of December 6th, this is a list of franchise marks he is about to own.

Games played 542 Tied with Morris Peterson for 1st

Minutes played 18,408 2nd. Expect to pass Chris Bosh (18,815) for 1st on January 1st in L.A.

Field goals made 3,562 2nd. Expect to pass Chris Bosh (3,614) for 1st on December 12th at home

Field goals attempted 8,014 1st.

Free throws made 2,688 2nd. Expect to pass Chris Bosh (2,997) for 1st on March 4th in Milwaukee

Free throws attempted 3,257 2nd. Expect to pass Chris Bosh (3,767) for 1st on April 4th in Indiana

Points 10,025 2nd. Expect to pass Chris Bosh (10,275) for 1st on December 26th in Portland

In steals DeRozan has 521 and at his career average of 1 per game, he just might catch Doug Cristie (664 1st) by the end of next season.

DeRozan is also on pace to break Vince Carter’s single season franchise marks for field goals made (788), attempted (1,696) and points scored (2,107). He currently holds the franchise’s third best scoring mark at 1,830 points in 2015-16.

DeRozan already holds the top two single season marks for free throws made (555, 519) and attempted (653, 630) in 2015-16 and 2013-14 respectively.

A couple of franchise records he may never get all the way to the top include:

Rebounds 2,148 for 5th as he’s behind Jonas Valanciunas (2,504 4th) and Bosh (4,776 1st)

Assists 1,462 for 6th as he’s behind Kyle Lowry (2,144 2nd) and Jose Calderon (3,770 1st)

Staying with just one team throughout an NBA career isn’t all that common. There are just too many things that can make that impossible, but DeRozan has seen his opportunity to leave a lasting mark on the Raptors record books and he is going to do it. The DeRozan Era has changed how Toronto views their NBA team and it’s only right that he is written into the team’s history.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Deadly D2 DeRozan Making NBA History

Toronto Raptors All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan has been turning back the clock by leading the NBA with the much maligned two-point midrange game. It’s been thirty years since anyone has started an NBA season scoring like this, owning the midrange and shunning the three-point line. Taking his jump shooting prowess to another level, Deadly D2 DeRozan (he needs a nickname), is averaging over 34 points per game eight games into the regular season and shooting an outstanding 53.3 percent from the field.

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 34 points as the (6-2) Raptors rallied to defeat the (6-2) Hornets 113-11 on Friday night becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1986 to record 30+ points in seven of the first eight games to start a season. DeRozan leads the NBA in points (34.1), field goals made (104), 30-point games (7) and tied with Anthony Davis for the lead in 40-point games (2).

MOST TOTAL POINTS THROUGH 8 GAMES
Michael Jordan 307 (1986-87)
Rick Barry 303 (1966-67)
Michael Jordan 303 (1988-89)
Michael Jordan 281 (1989-90)
Tiny Archibald 276 (1972-73)
DeMar DeRozan 273 (2016-17)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 273 (1970-71)
World B. Free 273 (1979-80)

DeRozan started out shooting over 50 percent from two-point range in his rookie season and taking almost 97 percent of his shots inside the arc, but each year as his shot attempts went up and the pressure to develop a three-point shot increased he became more of a volume scorer, finally hitting “rock-bottom” at 42.6 percent from two-point range two seasons ago. However, DeRozan is known for his work ethic and he reversed the trend last season shooting a more respectable 45.8 percent from two-point range and an almost acceptable 33.8 percent from three-point range.

This season he has reversed the trend on three-point attempts and has brought his two-point attempts up from under 90 percent last year to almost 93 percent this year and those two-point attempts are falling from any distance inside the arc. Surprisingly, his attempts within three feet of the basket are down by about half as well. About 80 percent of his shots are spread out from three feet to the three-point arc. His midrange game is thriving.

The biggest change to DeRozan’s play this season has been nothing is rushed. Even challenged shots seem to be taken under control and at DeRozan’s discretion and it’s almost a surprise when he misses. It feels like he could be hitting an even higher percentage of his shots, as unrealistic as that expectation would be.

DeRozan is already in some elite company.

In the last 50 years only three players have started a season recording 30+ points in eight of the first nine games: Michael Jordan (1986-87), World B. Free (1979-80) and Tiny Archibald (1972-73). DeRozan can tie that mark with a 30-point effort against the Knicks in Toronto on Saturday.

In four games against New York last season, DeRozan averaged 26 points on 53.3 percent shooting making Saturday night’s contest a game to watch.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 


 

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Scoring Not Seen Since Michael Jordan

It’s been 30 years since an NBA player scored 30+ plus in each of the first five games of the regular season like Micheal Jordan did back in November of 1986 when the legend did it in his first six of the season. But on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan seemed to score 34 points on the HEAT with relative ease for his fifth straight 30+ point scoring night in five games and only the Sacramento Kings on Sunday stand in his way of making it six in a row.

So far this season no one has found a way to stop DeRozan from scoring and the HEAT were no different as reported by ESPN.

“We tried to give him different looks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We really wanted to try and take it out of his hands a couple of times but we weren’t able to do it. He’s a heck of a player.”

In fairness, the HEAT weren’t able to do it last year either when DeRozan averaged 29.3 points over their four regular season meetings and he’s playing at a much higher level right now.

Back in 1986 Jordan was just 23-years-old, starting his third NBA season and was about to average over 30 points per game for the first time in his career. In those first five games in 1986, Jordan averaged 39.4 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Jordan was 0-2 from three-point range and averaged 29.2 field goal attempts.

Like Jordan, DeRozan isn’t relying on the long ball and has gone 1-8 from three-point range. The Raptors wing is averaging 35.8 points on 55.1 percent shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The higher shooting percentage helping to offset his fewer shot attempts (25.4).

DeRozan must be feeling a bit guilty about dominating the scoring as he passed up a few shots early on against the HEAT, but head coach Dwane Casey set him straight. The 4-1 Raptors are winning because of his scoring.

“A couple shots I passed up,” DeRozan said. “(Casey) just said to me to go out and shoot it.”

In 1986 Jordan’s Bulls also started the season 4-1, improved to 5-1 when he scored 34 points in Game six before dropping the next two.

The Raptors play the Kings (2-4) in Toronto on Sunday before a couple of tough road games starting in Oklahoma City (4-1) on Wednesday and Charlotte (4-1) on Friday.

Can DeRozan match or beat Jordan’s record of six games scoring +30 points to start a season? Suddenly an early visit by Sacramento has become a must see game. The opportunity to watch someone walking in the shadow of a legend doesn’t happen every day.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Leads The NBA In Scoring

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.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Guards Show Mid-Season Form In Detroit

The preseason tilt between the Raptors and the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday night gave a good indication about which team was ready to start the regular season and who still has a lot of work to do. The Detroit News James Hawkins reported on Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy’s displeasure with the effort he saw in his team’s final tune-up, a 103-92 loss that was worse than the score indicated.

“I have been happy with our team’s work ethic and how hard we have played throughout the preseason, but I wasn’t tonight,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I was really disappointed. I did not think that we competed hard enough tonight.

“They pounded us on the glass. I did not think we were very aggressive defensively. I do not think we did a great job contesting shots. I just do not think we battled hard.”

Toronto outrebounded Detroit 47-37 and won the turnover battle with 21 points off 14 Pistons turnovers to just 5 points on 12 opportunities provided by the Raptors.

The game was close through the first eight minutes with the lead changing hands three times, but when Van Gundy pulled his starters 8.7 minutes in and three points down, things quickly fell apart.

As Drummond exited for the 19-year-old rookie Henry Ellenson, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey replaced Jonas Valanciunas with third year center Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira and it all went downhill for Detroit. Patrick Patterson, who had subbed in for rookie Pascal Siakam a minute earlier, found Nogueira for a dunk and a minute later Nogueira grabbed Drew Crawford’s miss on a long three-point attempt for a layup. DeMar DeRozan scored his 10 point of the quarter with less than a second left after Nogueria rebounded a Marcus Morris missed three-point attempt with 18 seconds left in the quarter and nearly 12 seconds left on the shot clock.

Nogueira may have been beating up on a rookie, but that’s what he’s supposed to do at this point in his career and what Casey will need from him on most nights during the regular season. Bebe finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 effective minutes.

However, it was business as usual for Toronto’s All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as they combined for 53 points on 18-35 shooting from the field and outrebounded the Pistons starting backcourt 10-0. Backup point guard Cory Joseph piling on with 10 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists. The Raptors guards imposed their will on Detroit.

“They ran their stuff with a lot of tempo, a lot of speed and we weren’t able to match that,” (Tobias) Harris said. “The physicality got to us early on and that’s something we have to adjust to and really adapt to when we’re playing against teams that can impose their will. We have to learn and grow from it.”

Toronto led by 20 points late in the third quarter when Lowry and DeMarre Carroll were subbed out for Joseph and training camp hopeful Fred VanVleet and the Pistons went on an 8-1 run to close out the frame. VanVleet going 0-4 from the field for 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists over the final 15 minutes. The now veteran Joseph providing nearly half of Toronto’s fourth quarter offense with 10 points on 4-4 shooting as his team’s leader on the court with Lowry watching from the bench. The Pistons starters Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond salvaging what the could from this game against Toronto’s 2nd/3rd unit.

The Pistons will get a chance at redemption in the Raptors home opener on October 26th.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Jonas Valanciunas Kyle Lowry 2016 media day

Coach Casey Says Raptors Are Going To Score This Year

The Toronto Raptors played at the second slowest pace in the NBA last season, but they still managed to put up points in the dead middle of the pack (102.7 points per game) while playing solid defense so they had a league fifth best plus/minus of +4.5 points. Head coach Dwane Casey maintains it’ll be defense first again this season and he isn’t worried about scoring. “We’ll score,” Casey explained after a recent preseason practice and one look at this Raptors roster suggests they’ll score more than last season unless the injury bug bites them hard again this time.

In the Raptors starting unit of 2015-16, center Jonas Valanciunas missed 22 games, small forward DeMarre Carroll missed 56 games and the 35-year-old power forward Luis Scola started 76 games as his team’s best starting option at his position.

The Raptors blew through these issues somewhat seamlessly, but likely impact of injuries to starters and Scola on their scoring isn’t that hard to see.

The stone-fisted Bismack Biyombo was a solid replacement for Valanciunas in the starting line-up, but he he averaged 7.2 points as a starter versus 12.9 points for Valanciunas.

Carroll averaged 11.9 points as a starter, but more importantly spread the floor with 5 three-point attempts as one of the Raptors best three-point shooters. Veteran forward James Johnson stepped in for 32 starts, but he only averaged 5.9 points and 1.5 cringe-worthy three-point attempts per game. Rookie Norman Powell eventually won the job and started 24 times (almost all after the All-Star break) and averaged a solid 10.1 points and 3.2 three-point attempts while shooting 46.1 percent from three. Powell doesn’t have Carroll’s experience or size, but he sure makes that Raptors bench look a lot stronger heading into this season.

As much as everyone would have liked a stronger starting power forward than Scola, the veteran was pretty effective averaging 8.7 points and spreading the court with 2.1 three-point attempts and hitting over 40 percent of them. Still, newcomer Jared Sullinger is bigger, younger and forced his way into the Celtics starting lineup over several bodies put in his way before the season started. In his 73 starts with Boston, Sullinger averaged 10.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. He only shot just over one three-ball per game, but like Scola last season, the potential to become a three-point threat is there.

The other scoring aspects of this year’s roster are:

1) Valanciunas, third on Toronto in scoring last season, is expected to play significantly more minutes this year.

2) Sullinger is also expected to play significant minutes at center where he’ll be a much more effective offensive player than Biyombo could ever hope to be.

3) Lowry, coming off a career year, is heading into a contact year that should/will land him a deal in the $130-150 million range. Look for the Raptors’ leader to have an even bigger year this time around.

For purely fantasy purposes, a quick look at the Raptors projected nine man rotation using last year’s stats illustrates why Casey isn’t worried about scoring.

Starters:
Kyle Lowry 77 games, 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds
DeMar DeRozan 78 games, 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds
DeMarre Carroll 26 games, 11 points, 4.7 rebounds
Jared Sullinger 81 games, 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds
Jonas Valanciunas 60 games, 12.8 points, 9.1 rebounds

Reserves:
Terrence Ross 73 games, 9.9 points, 2.5 rebounds
Norman Powell* 25 games, 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds
Cory Joseph 80 games, 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds
Patrick Patterson 79 games, 6.9 points, 4.3 rebounds

Totals: 113.7 points, 44.1 rebounds (last season 102.7, 43.4)

* Powell post All-Star break

The biggest fly in the fantasy numbers will be Casey trying to find minutes to develop players like Lucas Nogueira, Jacob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright. The reality is there isn’t enough minutes available to give the nine guys in the rotation all the time they should be getting and are expected to earn this season – unless someone gets hurt.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Are Fighting To Be The Next Man Up In Toronto Again

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has one of those nice problems to have. He has too many deserving players and not enough minutes to go around leaving a group of guys fighting to be the next man up when opportunity finally knocks.

Even with the departure of starter Luis Scola, back up center Bismack Biyombo and heavily used fill-in James Johnson, finding meaningful minutes for players outside of the team’s top nine players will be a challenge unless someone gets hurt.

Plus, if Casey can, he’d like to find more minutes for some of the guys in his top nine, but if all of them were to just average playing the minutes they had last season, he’d have to create about 10 more minutes a game just to do that.

The Raptors will feature a three guard rotation with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph soaking up virtually all of the minutes at the one and the two spots. These three very durable guards averaged so many minutes last season (98.5 minutes combined out of 96 available) that the only way Casey could keep them on the floor was to play them together. In 74 games Casey ran a lineup of Lowry, Joseph, DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and one of Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo for an average of 3.2 minutes per game.

Heading into this season, the developing Joseph could see even more than the 25.6 minutes he averaged in his first go around in Toronto and since the All-Stars DeRozan and Lowry aren’t likely to be cut back, those minutes will have to come from somewhere (someone) else.

The one player Casey has already hinted at trying to “protect” this season so he’s available in good shape for the playoffs is DeMarre Carroll. Carroll averaged 30.2 minutes, but only played in 26 games due to injury and has only recently returned to playing five-on-five basketball in practice. Known as the Junkyard Dog 2.0, Carroll won’t exactly be excited about playing 24-26 minutes a game, but he’s secure in his contract and a team player. Besides, Casey knows he has to create minutes for the very deserving Norman Powell somehow, someway.

With very limited opportunities expected to be available at shooting guard, Casey will be left searching for ways to get Powell and three-point specialist and all around super tease Terrence Ross 24 minutes a game each this season. Casey can create time by playing small ball and the Raptors, like so many other NBA teams these days, have featured very successful lineups of guards and wings with one big man on the court.

Ross led the Raptors bench in three-point attempts last season (4.6), averaging 9.9 points in 23.9 minutes. As much as Ross can frustrate the fans for not doing more, Toronto needs his ability to stretch the floor. Post All-Star break, Powell averaged 9.6 points in 22.8 minutes and hit on 45.5 percent of his 3.1 three-point attempts, plus Casey loves his physical brand of defense.

The squeeze may come with the big men, although it won’t be easy to sit these guys down either.

Jonas Valanciunas was third in Raptors scoring (12.8 points) in just 26 minutes per game last season and he came up huge in the postseason before he was injured. Now entering his fifth NBA season, the pressure will be on to find JV more playing time. It’s easy to project Valanciunas at his 2016 pre-injury playoff numbers of 15 points, 12.1 rebounds, a steal and 1.4 blocks if he gets 28 to 30 minutes a night.

The crunch may come with Jared Sullinger and Patrick Patterson. Sullinger averaged 23.6 minutes a game in Boston putting up 10.3 points and a team best 8.3 rebounds. He replaces Scola (21.5 minutes per game) at starting power forward, plus Sullinger is expected to spend some time at backup center. Patterson played 25.6 minutes a game last year. However, both players are on expiring contracts and will be pushing hard for a bigger role this time around.

Sullinger and Patterson are highly motivated and very talented players, so Casey isn’t likely to find any minutes here to hand out to someone else. If anything, these two guys should be expected to earn more playing time than last season. It just isn’t that easy to see where the additional minutes for them are going to come from.

Then there’s the crew fighting to be the next man up if and when Casey needs someone.

Sitting on the sidelines and hoping to make an impression on coach Casey at training camp are centers Lucas Nogueira, rookie (9th pick) Jacob Poeltl and rookie (27th pick) center/power forward Pascal Siakam (who is eerily similar to Biyombo except this kid can score too). In other circumstances, on a team without so many quality big men or not fighting for a high playoff seed, these guys would play.

Nogueira has natural gifts of length, hops and quicks that are hard to find. He has the ability to be the best screen setter on the team, the potential to be a three-point threat or to feed the post from the outside for dunks and layups, and a is natural shot blocker. He just has to stay healthy and put it all together for longer than a quarter at a time.

Poeltl was described as the least likely player to be a bust in this year’s draft, a back-handed compliment to be sure, but not wrong. He has all the earmarks of a solid traditional NBA center. He might even become better than JV given time to develop.

Siakam is the guy everyone is likely to get excited about. High energy with more skill than he’s been given credit for, this is the guy to watch in preseason – even if he’s the one pegged as most likely to see time in the 905 right away. There’s just a “Norman Powell-like” feel to this kid.

Just maybe Casey makes the effort/sacrifice to create a few minutes for one of these three big men at backup center?

There never really was an issue with Delon Wright or Bruno Caboclo.

Wright won’t be available until December and he might not even get backup minutes at point guard if Lowry or Joseph aren’t available. Powell looked just as good as Wright running the offense with the 905 last season.

Is Bruno still two years away? t.b.d.

Of the six guys in training camp hoping to land the 15th roster spot, 26-year-old 905 Wing E.J. Singler has the three-point stroke and all around game that would make him an ideal replacement for last season’s injury reserve James Johnson. However, nothing is for certain with this group.

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has a lot of decisions to make before the regular season starts, but they feel more like tweaks than earth shattering moves. His biggest issue may be trying to keep everybody happy with the number of minutes he has available and to keep guys fighting to get more.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Ujiri Tells DeRozan and Lowry To Think About Championships

Toronto Raptors All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are coming off career years and team President Masai Ujiri wants them to set their goals higher, to start thinking about championships as reported by Lauren La Rose on CBC Sports.

“What an unbelievable year for both of them,” Ujiri said of the duo. “They’re All-Stars, they get to the Eastern Conference Finals, they’re Gold medalists.

“When I texted with them and we talked about the championship, that’s where their minds should be, to be set. They’re building themselves to be that caliber of players. They should start thinking about competing to the highest level.”

The Toronto Raptors are coming off a 56 win season that saw them just two wins away from representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals and they head into this season with an upgrade at starting power forward as the Celtics leading rebounder Jared Sullinger steps in to replace the 36-year-old Luis Scola.

Both DeRozan and Lowry were Eastern Conference All-Stars for the second time in their careers last season. DeRozan (23.5 points per game) only trailed LeBron James for the scoring lead in the East. Kyle Lowry ranked as the third best player in the Eastern Conference in Sports Illustrated’s top 100 NBA players and he was noticeably better than the Cavs Kyrie Irving in this summer’s run to Olympic Gold in Rio.

While the Cavaliers will significantly outspend the Raptors again this season, only the width of the gap is left to be determined when the Cavs finally get J.R. Smith inked to a new contract, their advantage may not be as insurmountable as it’s perceived to be. Cleveland took first place in the East last season with just one more win than Toronto. It is only the presence of LeBron James that makes this team stand out in their Conference.

Head-to-head Toronto won the regular season series with Cleveland last year 2-1, taking two close games in Toronto and getting blown out at the Q. The Conference Finals took a similar turn with Cleveland winning two blowouts at home, then losing two blowouts at the Air Canada Centre before finally putting the underdogs away in Games Five and Six.

Unfortunately the Raptors were without the services of a healthy Jonas Valanciunas for the first four games against the eventual NBA Champion Cavaliers and Valanciunas only saw limited run in the final two games and it mattered.

More than even the points the Raptors starting center was putting up in the playoffs before he was hurt, Valanciunas did shoot 7-9 for 15 points in 36 total minutes over the final two games against the Cavs, Toronto missed his rebounding as Cleveland hammered Toronto on the boards 255 to 210 over the six game series. Valanciunas was averaging 15 points and 12.1 rebounds per game in the playoffs before he was hurt.

It should be noted the Raptors were bailed out on the glass at home by monster performances from Bismack Biyombo who grabbed 40 rebounds total in Games Three and Four of the Conference Finals.  Unfortunately Biyombo only averaged 4.3 rebounds over three games in Cleveland.

However, where the Cavaliers are a veteran laden team, the Raptors are still building. Toronto’s anticipated nine man rotation this season averages just 5.3 years of NBA experience and the balance of the roster will have two years or less in the league.

“We have 10 players who are 25 years and younger. We are a growing team,” said Ujiri.

“Many things have to come together, but you had what we had last year.”

Toronto is going to have to be very lucky on the injury front or some of these young guys will need to take big steps in their development over the course of the coming season if the Raptors are going to challenge the Cavaliers when it counts in next spring’s playoffs. Unless of course Ujiri has something up his sleeve to add some proven veteran help by the trade deadline.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 



 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Proves His Value At The Rio Olympics

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan recast his role off the bench from Team USA’s Gold medal winning performance at the 2014 World Cup in Spain at the 2016 Rio Olympics as a highly efficient scorer on a team of All-Stars. Once again he proved his value playing with his peers and brought home his second Gold from an international competition.

DeRozan shouldn’t have to prove anything at this point. The second leading scorer in the NBA’s Eastern Conference last season got paid in free agency this summer after helping his team to the Conference Finals and that shouldn’t have surprised anyone, but for some unknown reason there still remained doubters who suggested Toronto would be better off without him.

Averaging 23.5 points per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from three-point range, DeRozan had a great regular season in a franchise record setting 56 win campaign. An All-Star for the second time at 26-years-old, the fact Team USA tapped him once again to represent his Country was generally expected.

Two years ago in Spain on a guard heavy team featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, DeRozan averaged 4.8 points in 11.8 minutes over 9 games while shooting a solid 53.6 percent from the field. Team USA averaging 52.3 percent shooting.

This summer, on a very different roster, DeRozan improved on those numbers scoring 6.6 points in 11.1 minutes over 7 games while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. This time Team USA featured guards Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry with Irving and Thompson returning along with DeRozan from 2014.

Team USA faced their struggles in Rio. As a team they shot just 47.1 percent from the field and except for DeRozan, the guards scoring efficiency left something to be desired.

Butler shot 34.2 percent from the field, Lowry 41.4 percent and Thompson 36.4 percent. Irving helped to maintain the team shooting average at 47.7 percent, although he needed Lowry to pick him up defensively. On the 12 man Team USA roster, only centers DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins shot better from the field than DeRozan.

Team USA won Gold in Rio because of their depth. Different stars stepped up at different times to help their team pull out the win despite adversity. DeRozan only played a role, but he played it well and in the company of his fellow All-Stars against competition highly motivated to knock them down a peg. He proved his value once again.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini