Last year Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had a breakout season. He averaged 27.3 points a game while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. DeRozan has always been a solid scorer, as he’s averaged about twenty points a game throughout his career. Last season he put it all together and this year he’s built on that. So far this year DeRozan is averaging 25.3 points a game and being mentioned in the MVP discussion. Like Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, he is considered a dark horse candidate to win the award. DeRozan may be a dark horse candidate, however his play this year has put him in the discussion.
Right now DeRozan is ranked 5th in the MVP award race. Other players being mentioned are Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. All these players are having amazing seasons, but they each have a unique reason on why they’re being considered for MVP. For DeRozan, his scoring is not the only reason he is being considered for the award. This season DeRozan has improved two areas of his game that have made him much more dangerous. He’s improved his shooting and passing ability, making him more than just a one dimensional player. This season the Raptors look like a different team, and a big reason for that is DeRozan.
DeRozan’s improvement is essential for this team as it tries to shed it’s reputation as a fake contender. An MVP is a player who carries his team above those struggles, and it’s looking like DeRozan could be that guy. The Raptors have made it to the playoffs each of the past three years, but have failed to advance as far as they would like to. DeRozan, in a way exemplifies the Raptors, as people are starting to take them seriously. Before this season, DeRozan was considered a very talented player. He is a three time All-Star, but has never been in the conversation with the games best. This year he is showing why he should no longer be considered just a very talented player.
DeRozan’s improvements are showing up in many areas of his game. He is averaging 5.1 assists a game, much higher than his 2.9 career average. His shooting percentages are above his career norms, showing how his scoring touch has improved. What makes this even more impressive is that compared to his career norms, Derozan is actually playing less. Over the past six seasons he has averaged at least 35 minutes a game. This year that average is down to 34.5. This is not a significant decrease and is a product of many different things, but it’s still impressive that he’s excelling while playing less minutes.
There is still a lot of basketball to be played. This award will be determined in the second half of the season when wins become critical. If DeRozan can keep playing like this, his name will be thrown around a lot more in the MVP discussions.