A discussion in one of the HQ's live chats inspires a discussion on two of the Raptors' young wing prospects, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan.
The Toronto Raptors may have lost to the Miami Heat on Saturday night, but it marked the second-straight solid outing for their supposed 2-guard of the future, DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan pumped in a career-high 26 points against the Magic on Friday night in Toronto's surprising win, and then on Saturday put up 21 in the loss to the Heat.
Already his scoring average has jumped from 9 to 14 points a game, and his assist-per-game mark has doubled, and most of his other metrics have increased as well. Plus, his free-throw attempts have gone from 2.5 a game last season, to 5.2 this year, a huge jump and one that Raptors' fans have been craving. We're still only talking about 10 games, but it's a promising sign of hopefully things to come, as the Dinos search for hope for the future, in a season that looked fairly devoid of it.
However DeRozan isn't the only "young one" that's been showing promise.
Sonny Weems has gotten more minutes of late, and found himself in the starting line-up the past two games thanks to an injury to Linas Kleiza.
Weems has increased his scoring average from about 8 to 13, his assists-per-game from 1.5 to 2.1, and has made jumps in other key metrics as well, most notably his shooting where he's hitting an incredible 52% of his shots from the field, and 33% from long-range after being a horrific 13% shooter last season.
In other words, the Raps have two young wings who are showing some nice promise early on this year, definitely an encouraging sign for the future.
But which of the two has the greater upside?
Great question, and one that was debated on Friday night's Raptors vs Magic live game thread.
At face value it would seem to be DeRozan.
He's been heralded as the 2 guard of the future by the Raptors after being their lottery selection a year ago.
However there's no question that Weems, that slightly more experienced NBA player, put together a better overall season last year and was eventually rewarded with a starting job.
I've always thought Weems was the one Toronto should put more focus on for various reasons; better basketball acumen, better overall athlete, better shooter, better defender, etc, etc. But take a look at the advanced stats below from Basketballreference.com:
The two career to date have posted very similar numbers, with Sonny being a slightly better rebounder and defender, and not as good a scorer (but more effective shooter). The one area that really stands out for me here is the AST% category, where Weems looks to be the superior facilitator by a wide margin.
However look at the final five columns, which are actual per game numbers for this year. Aside from assists, DeRozan is out-pacing his young gunz counterpart.
As well, the wins produced per 48 min score (courtesy of NB'eh) does not have Toronto's last two games factored in, and I'm guessing due to DeRozan's overall numbers in those two, in particular his efficient shooting display Friday night, they too will be quite similar.
So what does this tell us?
At face value I'd say nothing aside from the fact that Toronto has two players with very similar talents and who have bright futures.
However I think the real point of this exercise should be not to compare the two, but to note that both are taking big steps in the right direction. I may be a bit of a DeRozan cynic, but the bottom line for me is that both of these players need lots of minutes this season to show what they can do.
And let's keep playing them together!
The two have great chemistry (as we saw in Vegas specifically) and complement each other on the court.
If that means moving Kleiza to the bench I'm all for it and I'm hoping Jay has seen the light the past two games as well.
Again, this season is all about getting the right building blocks in place for the future, and as of now, both Weems and DeRozan look to be cementing their spots.