It was an easy moment to miss, coming as it did after the Warriors’ first quarter onslaught, but DeMar DeRozan is now the Raptors’ all-time leading scorer in franchise history. As of today, he’s got 10,290 points, all scored while in a Raptors uniform.
Here’s a look at the moment in question:
History for DeMar DeRozan. #NBAVote #RTZ #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/QObdn8V67i— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 29, 2016
Drafted ninth in 2009, DeRozan remains on the Raptors as the lone link to a different era (with Chris Bosh) and the abject misery of some super bad years (hello 2010 to 2012). If it had not been for the presence of other more convenient whipping boys (e.g. Hedo Turkoglu, Andrea Bargnani), it would have been easy for Raptors fans to turn on DeRozan. Some have anyway, despite the slow and steady improvement he so obviously worked into his game. The numbers don’t lie.
As a second-year player, DeRozan averaged 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He got to the free throw line a mere 4.9 times per game. And while he shot 46.7 percent from the field, DeRozan’s singularly-focused game would not be confused for the multifaceted attack it is now. Today, he’s having another career year — after last season, which was also a career year, and three years ago, which was also a career year. In 2016-17 so far, he’s putting up 27.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists, while shooting 47 percent from the field, and getting to the line 8.6 times per game. He’s used a lot more in the Raptors offense, and he’s filling up the stat sheet as a result. DeRozan’s not the only reason the Raptors are in second place in the conference right now, but he’s definitely one of the major reasons.
As the chemistry between him and backcourt partner Kyle Lowry has blossomed, the Raptors have found their footing. The two of them have now overseen the best sustained run of professional basketball in Toronto... in history. And while Lowry is the catalyst for most of the team’s success, acting as DeMar’s (and the team’s) big brother, it’s been DeRozan’s consistency (even in his missed shots) that the Raptors have come to rely on. Every year he’s laboured to get better, every year he’s grown as a player. When DeRozan signed his new $27 million per year contract, most of us didn’t even blink. He’d earned it — and we knew he was good for more.
That’s because everyone in Toronto now knows you can get the ball to DeRozan and let him go to work.