DeMar DeRozan’s hot scoring start is one of the most interesting subplots of the season. The newly-resigned Raptor is averaging 34 points per game on 53 percent shooting. Numbers like those are more at home on a video game console than out on the hardwood.
How he is getting those numbers is most interesting as he seems to be doubling down on mid-range jumpers. In essence, he is still very much the same player from last year’s impressive campaign in Toronto. But, he is making more of his looks than ever.
To make sense of all of this, it is time to take a deep dive on how DeMar DeRozan is having so much success in this early season:
Air Jordan Impression
Much has been made of the All-Star shooting guard being the first player to average 34 points per game through a team’s first seven games since Michael Jordan in the 1990 season. It is a startling accomplishment.
The Compton native is up 13 percentage points in field goal percentage over last year. While that is probably unsustainable, it shouldn’t just plummet out of nowhere. Difficult shots are where Jordan made his money and the 27-year-old is following the G.O.A.T.’s blueprint.
Connecting on 54 percent of contested shots this year when he only shot around 44 last season is impressive and a big part of how DeRozan is achieving these gaudy numbers.
He may not be Jordan, especially not on defence, but he’s been magical to watch early in the season.
A Different Type of Efficiency
Terms like volume scorer and shot creator are usually what you get when asking about how to define the former Trojan’s game. It’s no secret that he logs a ton of attempts from the field game in and game out.
When he touches the ball this year, he is averaging 4 seconds a touch before either passing it away or putting it up. This sort of decisive nature is something that can give an inefficient player a better chance against set defenses.
The result of this new decisiveness is his place at second in the NBA in points per touch at .49. Andrew Wiggins is first with .50. So, every time that he is looking at scoring the basketball, the Raptors’ first option has almost a 50 percent chance at scoring some points.
The Free Throw Line as Balance
Driving and finishing are hallmarks of DeRozan’s game at this point. He is one of the NBA’s great leapers and finds ways to make plays over taller defenders at the rim.
This season, he is third in the league in points off drives to the rim which puts him right where he was last season. He scored on 74 percent of his drives towards the basket and should look to attack whenever he is struggling from outside.
Those times where he doesn’t score, he often finds himself at the charity stripe, which is crucial for all scorers to keep up their averages. He is 10th in the league at free throw attempts this year.
At 82 percent for his career, you feel comfortable with your best scorer making a living at the line.
The Raptors may cool off but, their mercurial shooting guard will keep scoring, just maybe not like His Airness all season long.