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Raptors Player Review: DeMar DeRozan, The Contested Leader

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It was a tumultuous year for DeMar DeRozan, with a nasty groin injury preceding a furious finish to the regular season. His inefficiencies, though, ended up as the major discussion point.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

When DeMar DeRozan went down with a groin injury on November 28, the Toronto Raptors were 13-3 and the best team in the Eastern Conference. What followed was 21 games of Kyle Lowry going absolutely nuts, arguably exhausting himself in the process of earning an All-Star spot. After the All-Star break, the Raptors fell apart on defense, while DeRozan was left to prop the offense up with a strong run of games.

Love him or hate him, the team went as DeRozan went for the majority of the season. The knocks against him are there. He is inefficient, shooting just 41% yet commanding a team-high 28.4% usage rate. He takes a lot of contested jump shots (and enjoys the challenge). He is a shooting guard, yet hasn't developed a consistent three-pointer.

Yet, as Sean Woodley pointed out in his excellent piece summarizing DeRozan's season, there is reason to be optimistic if the Raptors decide to keep DeRozan. First, he's still on a relatively thrifty contract. Second, each summer he's developed a new aspect to his game. Last year, it was getting to the free throw line and knocking down the occasional three. This year, it was the ability to pass to open teammates and get the ball moving.

He's an absolute gym rat - there's no reason to think he won't show up in 2015-16 with new skills. As opposed to apathy, at least DeRozan is trying to improve and be great. Whether he'll ever get there is up in the air, but the effort is always there.

Let's roll the tape.

Statistics

60 games (60 started), 35 minutes, 20.1 points, 41.3 FG%, 28.4 3P%, 83.2 FT%, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, 2.3 turnovers

Best Game

This was a fun one. On March 30 against the Houston Rockets, in the midst of playing arguably the best ball of his career, DeRozan dropped 42 points on 14-for-27 shooting. He also had 11 rebounds in a game the Raptors won by three over the future Western Conference finalists.

Worst Game

What is it about those Chicago Bulls? DeRozan has had nightmare-ish games against Jimmy Butler, none moreso than on November 13th. DeRozan shot a decrepit 3-for-17 (that's a .176 percentage), with four of his ten points coming from the free throw line. That all happened in 33 minutes, on national television no less.

Strengths & Weaknesses

+ Great penetration at his size, able to draw fouls
+ Developing offensive IQ, especially at finding the open man to start ball movement
+ Only gets paid $10.1 million a year!

- Goes through lusty periods with the contested jumper
- No consistent three-pointer
- Not a great defender at his position

Role Next Season

Considering his contract and what he brings to a team, DeRozan would be excellent trade bait for a team looking to contend with a third scorer. That same contract, though, may be the reason Masai Ujiri keeps him around to lead the Raptors next season. A team led by DeRozan and Lowry won't win a championship, but it will keep fans hopeful and engaged until the summer of 2016. Right? Guys??

A Gif To Sum It All Up