With the announcement of the NBA All-Star reserves coming today, it’s time to make the case for the Toronto Raptors 6-foot-7 swingman DeMar DeRozan. Presenting probably the most creative and spirited debate for an All-Star, DeRozan’s case certainly lacks no intrigue.
The Compton California native turned Toronto’s adopted homegrown entity, DeRozan is only 24 years old and has been in the NBA for four years already, all with Toronto. Basically since day one DeRozan has assumed the role of the Raptors main scoring threat, achieving a career high in points this season sitting at 21.8 per game.
For those unfamiliar with DeRozan’s game, his athleticism provides him his best opportunity to be effective on offense. He’s basically the ideal slim-and-slender shooting guard size-wise. Of course, he’ll flash the occasional jaw-dropping dunk, but mostly: DeRozan’s a jump shooter.
Toronto likes to run a lot of sets with DeRozan coming off screens to enable him to catch-and-shoot. He’s also trusted enough to be allowed to isolate his man one-on-one and create his own shot off the dribble, or simply shoot over the top of defenders from a standstill.
While Kyle Lowry is the team’s engine at the point, DeRozan has the keys to the car. And the recent success the team has had (three seed in the East) undoubtedly is in large part due to DeRozan’s All-Star caliber offensive play.
But perhaps the most relevant part of DeRozan’s All-Star bid is not his on court performance or statistics. Those statistics, by the way, are All-Star worthy. Rather, I’d like to discuss the externalities of DeRozan’s case, because it differs like few others.
Still today, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady (to a lesser extent) are invariably tied with Toronto Raptor basketball. Although the teams with Carter and McGrady never amounted to many wins or playoff success, Raptor fans had a unique endearment towards both those players, especially Carter until he forced his way out of Toronto.
After the team traded him to the New Jersey Nets in December of 2004, he still receives boos upon returning to the Air Canada Centre today. Fans were absolutely and rightfully upset Carter never quite received them as they him, but they’d of looked past the lack of affection if Carter could have won in Toronto.
What does this have to do with DeMar DeRozan? Toronto vicariously lives through its franchise players and now at this moment in time, DeRozan has become the franchise guy. The team and fans have desperately desired any semblance or signs of a player that they can collectively gravitate towards since Carter left town almost ten years ago.
The window to become unanimously recognized by fans (not just Raptor fans) as a franchise type guy isn’t very large, and quite often never does come at all for a player like DeRozan. That’s what feels powerful about Toronto fans calling for DeRozan to be an All-Star. DeRozan’s time to be an All-Star is now.
From an organizational standpoint, it remains to be seen if DeRozan truly is a franchise player. But the pulse of the fans has been stronger towards DeRozan to be an All-Star than towards Lowry because DeRozan represents the next great ambassador for Toronto and its fans.
Personally, I think both Lowry and DeRozan deserve to be All-Star’s this season. And if we were strictly looking at statistics and level of play, Lowry should be the All-Star if only one were to make the team. But if DeRozan was an All-Star, it might just be a longer lasting impact for the Toronto Raptors moving forward.