Before we get to our main focus today a reminder that tonight is the Raptors annual Red Party tonight. It takes place at Muzik and the money raised at the event goes towards the MLSE Team Up Foundation. If you are going to the event and have some photos from it you would like to share with us and the rest of the Dino Nation we would love to see them. Send them to us at Dinoblogger@Gmail.com and will share them with all our readers. The Raptors head into that event with a much needed win yesterday versus the Kings. I was only able to see the second half but Ryan did a great job recapping the game for all of you. It was nice to see both Andrea Bargnani and Demar Derozan both producing in a major way in the same game. DeRozan seems to be turning the corner and is figuring out what it takes to be a consistent scorer in this league.
That is the first major step of many that DeRozan will need to take if he hopes to become one of the elite players in this league. It is a big one as well because not to many guys can score 20 a night in this league and make it look easy. When and if DeRozan starts getting the calls that he deserves, it is going to become even easier from him to score points in this league. If he consistently makes his free throws he is capable of having huge scoring nights.
I also admire his determination to continue to drive hoop and take abuse despite not getting rewarded with the calls. If Demar is going to grow into the Anti-Vince Carter of sorts this is one of the first signs of it. Carter would shy away from contact and he was far from an ironman. DeRozan has started and played in every game this season. He has been pretty durable in his short NBA career so far. Given where he comes from in Compton,California his toughness is likely not much of a surprise.
However Jack Armstrong made some excellent points about Demar during the game yesterday. We always hear a ton about Andrea Bargnani and his lack of rebounding. Part of that is the nature of the position he plays and we think of that position as a traditional position for grabbing rebounds. We don't think that way about guards and wingmen though. But when you consider the great athletic ability that Demar has, there is no reason that can not be used on the glass at both ends of the floor. He could create extra possessions on offence and help out on the defensive glass. Just 2.9 rebounds in his rookie season and just a minor improvement to 3.4 rebounds so far this year. If he could get to a level of 6 a game that would be amazing. It would just take a little more focus on getting on the glass from Demar. We are not talking a major jump just becoming more aware and active on the glass.
The two players in Raptors history that Demar is compared to are Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, and they both were around that level in terms of rebounds. For Carter he averaged 5.7 and 5.8 rebounds in his first 2 seasons. While McGrady was able to average 4.2 and 5.7 boards in his first two seasons in the league. McGrady's best season on the glass was in 2001-02 with Orlando where he averaged 7.9 rebounds per game. While Vince Carter averaged 6 boards a game in 2 seasons with New Jersey back to back in 06-07 and 07-08 was the best he has done in his career.
Demar also needs to become a better passer and improve in that area. Just 1.8 assists and averaging just over 1.5 turnovers thus far this season. While assist to turnover ratio is something we generally use to measure point guards it can be important for Demar as well. He can draw a lot of attention driving to the basket, and he can make others better if he can make the simple pass when the defence shifts to him. What would be nice to see is about a 5 to 2 assist to turnover ratio from Demar. There will be times where he can get those hockey assists as well. Sticking with the comparisons to McGrady and Carter they managed 2.3(T-Mac) and 3.9(V.C) assists in their sophomore seasons. In terms of the best in their careers, Carter maxed out with 5.1 assists in 07/08 with the Nets. While McGrady had 6.5 assists in the 06/07 season with Rockets.
Also the major issue that people have Demar is his defence. It is a little harder to measure that through stats. While steals and blocks are measurable they do not tell a full story. Demar has a slight improvement in those areas. But in general terms all the athleticism that DeRozan has should be able to be used to make him a solid defender. Even the greatest players in this game have always had questions about their defence in the beginning of their NBA Careers. Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, there is not a superstar that I can think of that has been praised for their D early in career over their offence. Maybe the closet example might be Dwight Howard but that is a totally different position. When you are a swingman in the NBA you are matched up night in and night out with some of the most talented stars in this league. Let's take an example from the upcoming road trip for the Raptors. Demar could see Manu, Gilbert Arenas and D-Wade as potential match-ups. That is not a lot of fun for anyone.
It is a process to greatness and it doesn't happen over night. I think that Demar is turning the corner to taking his first major step on that path. But clearly there are more steps to take, but given his work ethic you know, or should know that he is going to continue to try to make them. Will he ever get to the point where we can have a conversation and compare him to Carter or McGrady? It is still to be determined but you see flashes of greatness and some skills that both Carter and McGrady lacked. In terms of work ethic, toughness and durability you can argue that DeRozan is ahead of Carter and McGrady. But there are no stats to really measure those things.
Yesterday's game was the first time that we saw Demar and Andrea both come through with big nights. If this can happen more consistently the Raptors might have a very different 1-2 punch than what they had with a McGrady and Carter. Many people that follow the Raptors have lamented over what might have happened if T-Mac and V.C stayed together in Toronto. Kobe Bryant believes that had they stuck together his Lakers would have been battling the Toronto Raptors for NBA titles.I think both DeRozan and Bargnani have a long way to go to be compared to Carter and McGrady as a tandem. No one will be comparing them to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol anytime soon. But how these two players develop will ultimately determine a lot of what happens with the Raptors future in both the short and long term.
But a Heir Canada Era may be a step closer to reality. Raptors are not going to be a playoff team it would seem. The rumoured trade that would bring Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets would make the Raptors division the Atlantic a lot tougher in the short and long term. So the Raptors need to hope that their young core led by these 2 players comes through, because if they do not the future looks mighty bleak.