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Old 01-12-2012, 08:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Chisholm: Derozan struggling with accountability

During his first two years with the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan was basically handed the world on a platter. He was an opening night starter as a 20-year-old rookie, and my midway through his second season he was the teamís go-to scorer and he became a nightly 20 ppg threat. Going into this, his third season, it looked like everything was about to coming together for the athletic swingman.

Then Dwane Casey arrived.

Casey is not the type hand out anything. Casey came in with a mandate to change the culture of a soft, pitiless basketball club, and we went to work immediately rewriting the offense and the defense to his standards and expectations. That has resulted in a bit of a shock for DeRozan.
His problems with defense, though, highlight a greater issue at work for DeRozan: a lack of basketball I.Q. Now, make no mistake, DeRozan is not a dumb player nor is he necessarily Wizards-level self-involved, heís just got a lot of learning to do as an NBAer. Defense is about two things: effort and intelligence. You can try as hard as you want on defense (and DeRozan does not try as hard as he can) but if you donít work to understand the nuances of your teamís defense and the opposing teamís offense then you arenít going to be able to offer much resistance as a defender. You could argue that DeRozan is two years behind in his defensive education, too, because he was simply never held accountable for his transgressions at that end of the floor. Bargnani and Jose Calderon were most often cited for their lack of stopping power in the Jay Triano era, but DeRozan was no more effective than those two and now that Bargnani and Calderon have picked up their play on defense DeRozan is left without a rock to hide under.

However, his offensive deficiencies are what is getting the most attention these days. It was more or less a foregone conclusion for most that DeRozan would be a consistent 20 ppg scorer on a strong percentage this season, basically a continuation of how he spent the back half of last season torching opponents. Thatís not whatís happened, though. Instead heís averaging 14.1 ppg on a career-low 41% shooting, and he looks increasingly unsure of how and where he is supposed to get his points in Caseyís offense.

When Casey took over the club, the first thing he did offensively was put the ball back into Andrea Bargnaniís hands. Triano began to de-emphasize Bargnani as the season wore on last year and DeRozan was the primary beneficiary. Bargnani, though, is a far more advanced and polished offensive weapon than DeRozan and his production early in the season has more than justified Caseyís trust in him as a primary scorer. Without the team catering to him offensively, DeRozan has to learn to read the teamís flex offense for his opportunities, and more often than not he just stands parked in the corner doing nothing. The flex offense is not terribly complicated, but it is reliant on its players being able to make correct reads in the screening/cutting/passing schemes the offense offers. DeRozan struggled at getting involved in his first season and the beginning of last season when the ball wasnít put in his hands in iso situations (prompting the changes brought on by Triano), so this is not a new occurrence, itís just causing fans irritation because they thought he was past this point in his NBA career.
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