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.
Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson