What is DeMar DeRozan up to these days?
From YouTube videos like this footage, I have seen with my own eyes that the Raptors two/three guard has been keeping busy playing in the Drew League on the summer league circuit. The Drew League is based in Compton, Los Angeles (DeRozan grew up in Compton). The League amalgamates professional basketball, college, street-ball and even some high school players into two divisions that each consist of twelve teams. This is where DeRozan has been getting in some serious summer runs; playing for the team, Go H.A.M!
Over the last two NBA seasons we have witnessed the maturation of a player that one day – ‘one day’ here means next season, if there is a season (damn you NBA lockout) – will unequivocally become the best player and face of the franchise. He is developing before our eyes and all we hope for is that the development does not plateau anytime soon.
Talented players with high work ethics often find ways to add different dimensions to their game. They work on their weaknesses during the off-season and add new wrinkles to their overall game. Take for example the instance when Kobe Bryant at some point added about twenty pounds of muscle to his frame, hoping that it would take his game to another level. The very next season in 2007, he lost the weight because he wanted more quickness and energy. The point is that Kobe was willing to try the additional weight, hoping that it would give him an advantage.
Does every player have the desire to work on their game or add new dimensions to it? Most players use their summers to stay in shape. Only a handful look to become better than their previous selves.
What DeRozan did in the second half of last season shows he might just have figured out how to turn the next level switch on. Whether he will achieve greatness is another topic all together. Right now, the important thing is to have development that translates to better stats and wins.
In the first 32 games of the 2010/2011 season, DeRozan averaged 13 points per game. In those early games, he had ten games in which he totaled less than ten points. The last 50 games of the season is where the revelation of DeMar began to unfold. He averaged 20 points per game and only had four games in which he scored below ten points.
On the season, he shot 47 per cent from the field while attempting 14 shots per game. The next level expectation for DeRozan is to see if he can maintain the excellent percentage from the field while being asked to assume a more prominent role on the offense. Can he average 20-25 points per game while rounding out other aspects of his game?
Hopefully scoring and the other aspects are being developed as he plays several months of summer ball. Some might argue that the competition is watered down but the fact that the league thrives on showcasing scoring and athletic abilities, might prove advantageous. It seems that all DeRozan needed last season was to believe that he has the game to shine in the league. The added confidence translated to improved play down the seasons stretch. Imagine what he can bring to the Raptors after posting numbers like these in a single summer league game.
That’s right! He shot 7 for 11 from three point range. The negative about that is that he launched eleven, which might make a lot of Raptor fans cringe. The positive is that he is working on his shot. Whether from beyond the arc or inside it, this is considered to be a good thing from my perspective.
Majority of the names on the box score are not household names but that should not inspire any thoughts regarding the level of play. Most of the players in the league played college ball and some play professionally in Europe and/or Asia. These are not your average pick-up games that might get intense every once in a while. These are regular-summer-league-season-games that lead up to the Drew League playoffs. This is where most of these guys sharpen up their game; some with the hopes of trying another run at making it to the NBA. Others work on improving/staying in shape for their contract work overseas.
And there are those like DeRozan and a few other NBAers who play because they are gym rats. You will find them in the gym working out or playing ball – alone or in a league. Bottom line here is that the competition in summer leagues are exactly what Raptor fans hope will help bring DeRozan’s game to the next level.
That and his own desire to work on his game – in a gym hoisting up shot after shot. Earlier today, he Tweeted: “In the gym…“. A little while later, he followed that tweet with “Shooting jumpers til my arm fall off…“.
DeMar DeRozan: Talent – check; Drive – check; Work ethic – check!
Able to lead Raptors to the playoffs and beyond – TBD!