DeMar DeRozan: The Forgotten Star

We have all seen DeMar DeRozan blossom into a pretty good NBA player after having somewhat of a sub-par season in his rookie year. But who could blame him for that performance, after-all he was playing behind the likes of Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and dare I say Hedo Turkoglu. He has taken huge steps in his sophomore season to better his game and become a better all-around player, but in the eyes of the NBA community outside of Toronto he's not really getting the credit or respect he deserves. Some may view him as just an athletic player who can get up and throw down some dunks on a regular basis, but he is continuing to expand his game and making strides to becoming a star in this league.

After finishing the 09-10 season with a decent 8.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.7 assists, he is currently averaging 14.2 points, 3.5 boards and 1,7 assists and these numbers may continue to increase as there is still over three months left in the season. We have also seen his scoring averages increase each month from 11.5 in October, 11.9 in November, 15.9 in December and 19,3 through 3 games in January. Not to mention that he is averaging 23.8 points over his last four games and has scored in double digits in twelve straight games, highlighted by a 3 point output in Houston, and I'm sure he'll continue producing at this astonishing rate. But still you hardly hear about these things outside of the Toronto media.

Another aspect of his game that has improved is his determination to take the ball to the hoop and get to the FT line, though he does get a bit too overaggressive at times. Last season he averaged 2.5 FT attempts per game, and that number has doubled this season as he is currently getting to the line 5.2 times per game which ranks him 30th overall in the league and 1st amongst Raptors players. To put that into perspective Chris Bosh, who was one of the best at getting to the line last season, gets to the line about 5.5 times per game this season, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce get there 5 times, fellow teammate Andrea Bargnani attempts 4.9 per game and Rudy Gay, who is perhaps one of the most athletic guys in the league gets there about 4.2 times. He also ranks 28th overall in FT's made this season with 134 makes, and 23rd in FT attempts, with 178, which is only two less than Pau Gasol and more than the likes of Chris Paul, Danny Granger, and Josh Smith. DeMar could even be getting to the line more often if he got a few more calls to go his way, as the referees haven't been giving him the benefit of the doubt must lately. That's not to say that the refs are out to get him or anything, but if you have watched the last few games, you'll be questioning some of the no-calls also.

Then there was the whole thing of him being snubbed for the Rookie team that competed in the Rookie-Sophomore game at last years All-star weekend. Of the nine players selected only four ( Tyreke Evans, Johnny Flynn, Stephen Curry, and Jsmes Harden) were selected before DeMar in the draft and only one of the remaining five (Brandon Jennings) was selected in the lottery. The remaining four were comprised of two picks in the 20's (Omri Casspi, 23rd, and Taj Gibson, 26th) and two second rounders (DeJuan Blair and Jonas Jerebko). Upon a closer look, this wasn't really as big a snub as it seemed as most of these guys were having better seasons than Demar at that time and ended the season with better scoring averages, except for Blair, but he was a beast on the boards in his limited minutes. But then at that very same All-Star weekend, Demar had to earned his spot in the dunk contest via a dunk-in against Eric Gordan, instead of being invited to participate like the other contestants. He would eventually win this, but ultimately lose in the finals of the main contest via fan vote to Nate Robinson.

So after having a dunk-in last year, you'll think that the NBA would do the same this year, but to no surprise they didn't and selected Blake Griffin, Brandon Jennings, JaVale McGee and Serge Ibaka for this year's contest. If DeMar had to participant in the dunk-in last year, why don't two other players get to compete for that final spot again this year. Was it because the didn't like that format or did they rather he earn his way into the contest instead of just giving him a spot? But before we get any conspiracy theory's started, let's just say that in the end he showed why he deserved to be in that contest last year. Now in terms of this year's selection choices, in which DeMar was once again not selected, I'll leave that for another day.

Overall, DeMar has become a solid NBA player and as much as his game has improved he has yet to receive the credit he deserves. But, then again there have been a long history of Raptors players who had to worked very hard in order to be recognized by the league, whether it had been VC, Bosh or Bargnani. So if DeMar keeps up his great work ethic and keeps on improving, in due time he would be getting that respect he deserves.

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