In a recent interview with ESPN’s Chris Haynes, DeMar DeRozan admitted that he was shocked at hurt when the Toronto Raptors traded him to the San Antonio Spurs.
Citing miscommunication and a false sense of security, it’s clear that it might take DeRozan some time to adjust.
But, no one seems to be talking about the fact that he averaged 23.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 33.9 minutes per game last season and will be an impactful player on a perennial contender in San Antonio.
Although he’s most likely going to be considered a downgrade from Kawhi Leonard, he’s still a perennial All-Star talent and should be able to provide veteran leadership alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili (if he decides to return).
Overall, the nine-year NBA veteran hopes that he can help mentor some of the team’s younger players.
Imparting his wisdom
"I'm going into my 10th year in the league, so with the knowledge and everything I've gained in this league, if I can help the next guy, that's what it is all about," DeRozan said after the second and final practice of Team USA's minicamp, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. "And I plan to learn from those young guys as well, so I am definitely looking forward to it.”
While there are a number of veterans on the Spurs roster, there has also been a bit of a youth movement. Bryn Forbes (24 years old), Derrick White (24), Jakob Poeltl (22), Dejounte Murray (21) and Lonnie Walker IV (19) could be factors within Gregg Popovich’s rotation in 2018-2019.
One player in particular stood out to DeRozan last season.
"He definitely stood out," said DeRozan of Murray. "He made me a fan the first week of the season. I think he had a (near) triple double against us. You love to see young guys like that. So anything I can do to help, I want to do it.”
Since San Antonio’s starting five will most likely consist of Murray, DeRozan, Gay, Aldridge and Gasol, it seems likely that DeRozan and his new backcourt mate will look to bond quickly, just like he did with Kyle Lowry in Toronto.
Overall, it seems as though the Spurs will be (and have always been) a team that demands leadership from all their veterans. Therefore, DeRozan’s willingness to lead by example will certainly be a welcomed addition to an already-cohesive bunch.