As noted here, DeMar is having himself a heck of a season. He's now up to career highs in individual ORTG (112), PER (21.3), usage (28.7%), assist rate (21.3%) and the highest TS% since his rookie season (54.9%).
Let's take a look at the types of plays the team has been running for him to get his offence. Here are the plays that make up at least 10% of his finished possessions, and the efficiency at which he scores on those plays. Note that these are scoring plays only, not assist plays.
Isolation: 18%, 0.86 PPP
Pick and Roll Ball Handler: 29%, 1.00 PPP
Post-up: 11%, 0.95 PPP
Spot up: 11%, 1.00 PPP
Off screen: 14%, 0.79 PPP
It is a very balanced breakdown, which bodes well for him being able to sustain his performance when defences take away certain aspects of the Raptors' offence in the playoffs.
There are lower usage plays as well, like transition baskets and cuts which are higher efficiency but are used less than 10% of the time (and are not really plays run for DeRozan).
But those off screen plays, which are typically where DeMar curls off of some downscreens to clear space for a long jumper (which he has cut down on) if he gets a shot off, are not going so well. The play, when he doesn't shoot, tends to re-set, either with him taking his man into the post (where it becomes a post-up play, which he is very good at) or dribbling at the arc and settling into an isolation.
On the off-screen play, DeMar shoots 39%, barely ever draws any free throws (6% free throw rate), and is in the 25th percentile in the league on over 100 possessions used this way. Might be a good time to recognize that this play is not working for him, and use it more as an entry to the post or to set up a second pick when he has the ball (where he is very effective).
Sure, you'd also like to see his isolation plays cut down, but right now the only real glaring hole is this off-screen play that encourages those tough shots. He's been so good elsewhere (especially on the ball this year) that it is a shame to waste possessions having him run around the court only to settle for a long jumper.
Big Man Rotation
In last night's game we saw some interesting big man rotations - after the abomination of a starting lineup we have got us off to our typical terrible start, Casey started mixing up his usual pairs of bigs - Jonas Valanciunas and Luis Scola versus Bismack Biyombo and Patrick Patterson, giving us a few glimpses of pairings we've been asking for for a while, JV with PP and Bismack with Scola. Both (relatively) new pairings worked better than the usual pairings last night.
Versus Cavs last night, on-court net ratings:
JV and LS: -44.4
BB and PP: -2.2
JV and PP: +17.0
BB and LS: +3.6
Unfortunately, we got treated to a frontline of BB, Scola, and JJ all at the same time which is not particularly fun to watch, but still, it reminds me to re-visit these pairings to see how they've performed on the year. If Coach Casey is now willing to try these together occasionally, perhaps we can see a full time shift to more logical pairings.
On the year, on-court net ratings:
JV and LS: +3.0
BB and PP: -0.5
JV and PP: +24.4
BB and LS: -2.9
Sadly, the only obvious story is to have JV out there rather than Biyombo, and to have JV and Patterson together as much as possible. I know I personally have high hopes for a BB/LS pairing off the bench, but the numbers do not bear it out so far. Thankfully, that -3 rating is pretty close to break even, which clearly is compensated for in the tremendous (so far) other big man combination.
Also, the pair has played 317 minutes together, and most of them have been with Lowry and DeRozan (300 minutes each), which is just continued misuse of players - two drive-heavy players playing beside two of the biggest paint cloggers on the team (sometimes with the added bonus of James Johnson at the 3 - I kid you not, they've played together for 43 minutes and it hasn't been pretty).
We've even gotten 6 minutes of this beautiful lineup: Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Bismack Biyombo. How does that happen, even for 6 minutes?
In any case, I think with more reasonable lineups, these big man pairings both show a lot of promise. We'll see if they pop up more frequently in coming weeks.
Stats from basketball-reference.com and NBA.com.