Is DeRozan now the finished article ?

Next stop...LA Lakers?
Is DeRozan now the finished article ?

DeRozan making a case as best Raptors player ever

Time to trust DeMar DeRozan’s expanding game?

DeMar DeRozan accomplished something on Monday that only one player had ever done while wearing a Toronto Raptors uniform. DeRozan dropped 52 points to celebrate the New Year, joining Vince Carter as the only Raptors to ever hit that mark. DeRozan’s entire line from Monday was extremely impressive: 52 points (17-29 FG, 13-13 FT), 8 assists, 5 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 TO.

This game highlighted two of the main reasons why DeRozan seems to be making a bigger impact on offense than in years past: long-range shooting and playmaking.

DeRozan has always been a midrange scoring monster and more of a finisher than a creator, but this season, he’s averaging a career-best 0.9 3-pointers per game and a career-best 4.9 assists per game. That’s for the season. But during his past seven games, he has picked up his long-range shooting tremendously, knocking down 21 treys in those game for an average of 3.0 3-pointers per game. Those are game-changers, both for his on-court impact and also for his fantasy status.

On the season, DeRozan currently ranks No. 1 among shooting guards and tenth overall in Offensive Real Plus Minus (ORPM), indicating that his presence on the court has correlated with more positive changes in his team’s offensive scoring margins than any shooting guard this season. This is a big improvement for DeRozan, who finished last season ranked ninth among shooting guards and 38th overall in this stat.

The improved long-range shot and increased playmaking are likely responsible for that improvement in on-court impact — and that long-range shot and those assists also make him a much more potent fantasy threat.

DeRozan is already an impact roto producer in scoring and free throw percentage, because he knocks down a lot of free throws on a great percentage. According to ESPN Player Rater, he’s also a positive in field goal percentage, as he’s shooting 48 percent from the field on high volume as well. But now he’s in the top 10 among shooting guards in assists too, and if he continues knocking down 3-pointers at anywhere near this clip, he’ll soon measure out even more positive in that category to boot.

Then, we’d be looking at something very interesting. In fact, the mere possibility that DeRozan makes the long-ball a consistent, volume part of his repertoire is enough to get him on the map as a trade target to start the new year with the potential to have a much stronger second half of the season than first.

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Football correspondent for GarberSports, Masters of Sports Law (LL.M)

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