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Old 03-02-2012, 12:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
Acie
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Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan has a case to be annoyed | Sports | National Post

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DeRozan had a case to be annoyed. He helped the Raptors get within five points of the Rockets by the end of the third quarter, and then watched as Leandro Barbosa, James Johnson and Linas Kleiza played down the stretch. If this season is partially about putting young players in pressure situations and seeing how they respond — and it is — Casey made a strange decision there, especially considering DeRozan was having a fine game and has been playing the best basketball of his season. DeRozan averaged 18.5 points per game on 45% shooting in February, up from 14.1 points on 37% shooting in January. And if there were any external reasons he was not on the floor, Casey needed to tell DeRozan before he got on the team plane. Sure, these guys are paid professionals, and do not require coddling. Part of coaching a young team is providing constant explanations, though.

DeRozan has to realize that he would not have earned anything as of yet if not for his position on a poor team. Over the last two years, some of DeRozan’s skills have developed — most notably his movement off of screens and his mid-range jumper. Still, some of his skills remain woefully underdeveloped for a player whose upside was supposed to be that of a go-to franchise swingman. His three-point shot is a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency-or-expiring-shot-clock option. He has trouble creating his own shot without the use of a screen. His defence comes and goes.

This year, his player efficiency rating is actually lower than it was in his rookie year. The Raptors have not helped in keeping DeRozan’s expectations in check — during his introductory news conference, executive vice-president Ed Stefanski made reference to DeRozan as a future all-star — but the reality is DeRozan only shows flashes of that potential. He was playing well against the Rockets, but he is not a reliable enough playmaker that he necessarily deserves fourth-quarter minutes.

DeRozan is in the process of responding to all of this. Against the Hornets, he had 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and eight free-throw attempts. It was the type of all-around game his athleticism hints at. He is averaging 22.8 points on 53% shooting over the last five games, with 34 combined free throws. If he makes that close to the norm, he will have earned a future with this team.

And not until then.
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