The Toronto Raptors drafted a 19-year-old DeMar DeRozan ninth overall in 2009 with a lot of unrealistic comparisons to one Vincent Lamar Carter. Sure the Raptors new young wing was a high flyer, but Carter spent three seasons in college before coming to the NBA and has other-worldly athletic gifts that are rarely seen, DeRozan was going to have to become his own man.
It didn’t help that in DeRozan’s rookie season, the Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh was going to bolt for Miami at the end of the year and the franchise was going to be looking for a new face to represent them. The team trotted out Andrea Bargnani and DeRozan as the faces of the franchise in the fall of 2010, even though neither player was ready to take on the role and the plan fell flat on its face.
Leap ahead to this season and Bargnani is gone, Rudy Gay was the face of the franchise and the organization, the media and the fans are torn as to whether this season would be the one Toronto finally escapes the lottery or would be in full blown tank mode to acquire a new face of the franchise like the college rookie sensation Canadian Andrew Wiggins.
After a 6-12 start to the season, the team trades Gay for a bunch of role players and it looks like the tank is on, but good things start happening and one of them is the emergence of DeRozan as the face of the franchise. Some things just can’t be forced!
One test of the emergence of a player into the mainstream is when the media outside of pro sports begins to recognize a player’s success. In the February 20-27 issue of NOW Magazine, the cover’s main feature was “The Era Of DeMar DeRozan Has Begun.” Inside, DeMar DeRozan is scary good! And he hasn’t peaked yet. By Julia LeConte
The timing couldn’t have been better. DeRozan has reeled off three straight games of over 30 points starting in Cleveland on February 25 as the Raptors battle with Chicago for third place in the NBA Eastern Conference standings – both teams with identical 33-26 records after Sunday night. DeRozan has good reason to appreciate the recognition from NOW while his team is doing well.
“It is always an honor to be on anything,” DeRozan said. “Just (to be on) something that is part of the city that everyone recognizes, it is definitely a cool thing. I am happy to be on there representing my team.
“I am just on there representing this organization and this team the best way that I can honestly, so I am doing my part, trying to be positive and spread the positive things we have been doing.”
It hasn’t been an easy or very straight road to success for DeRozan or the Raptors since Bosh left and the experience has humbled the Raptors newest star. He’ll take the accolades, but he credits his teammates for his success.
“I am doing my job at the end of the day,” DeRozan said. “I am doing my job and if all that come with it, I’ll take it, but at the end of the day, I’m just doing my job to help this team win.
“As long as we are winning, we got 15 faces as long as we are winning. I’m not into (being) an individual, whatever I do I have to thank my team for it as well – for my success – because we are all in it together.”
The Raptors newest face of the franchise has earned his time in the spotlight. DeRozan didn’t rocket to success from his rookie season, he worked hard and got better each year and finally broke out when the opportunity appeared and the time was right to assume a leadership role.
Toronto has been winning as a team this season and DeRozan isn’t the only member making a difference, but after years of trying to give him the face of the franchise tag before he was ready, it is his now and he will probably wear it better because it was earned the hard way.
Also check out:
Raptors DeMar DeRozan Nets His Third 30 Point Game In A Row
“(DeRozan) was efficient,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey after the game on Sunday. “I thought he did a good job. He had 6 assists which was big. They were double-teaming him trying to get the ball out of his hands and he did a good job of finding people. It is just another step in his growth.”