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Quick Stat Hits: DeRozan the Passer

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DeMar DeRozan seemed to have regressed in his passing game for the first half of the year. But since his return from injury, has something clicked?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

All stats for this piece taken from Basketball Reference.

Last year, DeMar DeRozan had an amazing breakout season passing-wise. He jumped from assisting on 12 percent of his teammates' field goals to 18.9 percent (12.0 AST% to 18.9 AST%), vaulting him from ball-hog to mediocre wing in a single season, a huge jump.

This year, he seemed to have regressed, posting a 12.8 AST% up to his injury.

Some hoped that his invitation into the coaches' meetings would get him back on track, but for the first eight games back from injury, he was just as bad as ever, posting a 13.0 AST%.

For some context on AST% rates, some players with approximately a 13.0 AST% this year:

Dion Waiters
Luis Scola
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Tim Hardaway
Kawhi Leonard
NeNe Hilario
Lou Williams

An assist rate of 13.0% ranks 160th in the league, and 130th amongst guards. That's not great.

But over the past eight games, DeRozan has had an awakening of sorts. He's posted a 25.2 AST%, while keeping his always good turnover rate at a tidy 10 percent.

In those eight games, the Raptors have gone 6-2 against some pretty decent competition (WAS twice, LAC, SAS, BKN twice, MIL; all project to be playoff teams, plus SAC who has been a matchup issue for the Raptors). They've posted an average offensive rating of 112.3 points per 100 possessions. That would rank second in the league.

If DeRozan can keep this up, as well as rediscover his own offense (his true shooting percentage has dipped well under .500 of late), and the team continues improving defensively with James Johnson playing significant minutes, the Raptors could be in for a very successful second half of the season.