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.