There’s no debating that the past 12 months stand as the high-water mark of DeMar DeRozan’s career.
There’s no debating that the past 12 months stand as the high-water mark of DeMar DeRozan’s career: he posted career-highs in scoring, PER, and Win Shares, he advanced in the playoffs for the first time, he earned his second All-Star trip, he was a central piece on a top-five offense for the second straight season, he raked in a fat $139 million contract, and he won gold at the Rio Olympics. Even DeRozan’s harshest critics—the ones who rightfully point to his poor shot distribution, rough efficiency numbers, shaky three-point stroke and forgettable defense—must acknowledge that DeRozan (23.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4 APG) took his non-shooting approach to the shooting guard position about as far as it can go last season. How long will it take for the other shoe to drop? DeRozan, 27, has logged massive minutes for six straight seasons, he hasn’t made much progress extending his range, and he’s had the benefit of playing in the glow created by Kyle Lowry. DeRozan’s defensive work has really gone in the tank too: last year, Synergy Sports ranked him in the 21st percentile overall as a defender, Defensive Real Plus Minus ranked him No. 78 among shooting guards, and Toronto’s defensive rating improved by nearly six points when he was off the court. For now, DeRozan’s elite ability to get to the foul line and his strong fit with Lowry should keep this honeymoon going. Unfortunately for DeRozan, the margin between “Best season ever!” and “Big step backwards” looks pretty thin. (Last year: No. 61)
+ He set new career-highs with 23.5 PPG, a 21.5 PER and 9.9 Win Shares
+ Fourth in the 2016 playoffs with 123 FT attempts, trailing only KD, Westbrook and LeBron
– His 46.3 eFG% was worst among players with at least 1,200 field goal attempts last season
– Led the NBA with 558 field goal attempts from 10-to-19 feet, but connected on just 40.3%