The Toronto Raptors were one of the biggest surprises in the NBA last season, and a large portion of that was due to the improve play of shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry put up big numbers as well, but there was no doubt that DeRozan shared the No. 1 scoring role with Lowry throughout the entire season.
He has an incredible amount of potential, but will he be able to take the next step towards becoming a star in 2014?
There are some serious concerns surrounding DeRozan’s future as far consistency goes, and he has a lot to improve in when it comes to that aspect of his game. His shooting percentages are a concern as well, and he still needs to improve as a playmaker and defender. That being said, there are also a lot of positive signs that show his improvement.
He raised his scoring average per game from 18.1 points per game to 22.7 last season. That type of rise is very impressive and shows that he has already become one of the most potent scorers in the league.
His overall and 3-point shooting percentages were concerning at 42.9 percent and 30.5 percent respectively, but shooting is something that hard work and good coaching can help fix over time.
Looking at his shooting chart, it isn’t too hard to find what his main issue has been and what has been driving his shooting percentages down. His 3-point shooting has been absolutely awful outside of the corners, and he shoots very low percentages from mid-range as well.
Part of the issue with his mid-range game is that he takes bad shots, and developing a bit more patience and willingness to pass the basketball will help that in a major way.
If DeRozan is looking to take his offense to the next level, he’ll need to improve his mid-range and perimeter shooting. He has the ability to get to the rim nearly at will, and he needs to exploit that ability to the fullest this coming season.
His free-throw percentage was 82.4 percent last year, and that is just one more reason that he needs to attack the basket.
Defensively, he has the ability to be a lockdown type of defense presence but he has a lot of work to do to get there. He ended up averaging 1.1 steals per game, but for a player as athletically gifted as he is, it simply isn’t getting the job done.
There is no denying his speed and quickness, and he is capable of jumping into the passing lanes and using his quickness to make plays defensively. The Raptors have seen him play strong defense at times, and they are going to be pushing him to take the next step on the defensive end of the court.
Perhaps the most needed improvement to his game would be in the playmaking category. He took a step forward by increasing his assist per game numbers by 1.5 last season, but he needs to work even hard at putting his teammates in better positions to score.
After seeing how deadly he was scoring last season, defenses are going to be looking to shut him down and force the ball out of his hands. The best way for him to beat the defense and make them back off of him would be to develop the ability to shred them with his passing ability.
All of that being said, there are a lot of people expecting DeRozan to take the next step of claiming that “star” title that he has been working towards. There is no denying the physical ability that he has to be something special, but he needs to develop a much more all-around game before he reaches his full potential.
He is a hard worker and he has a great coaching staff to work with, and that is what will end up making him take the next step for the Raptors in 2014.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com.