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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