DeMar DeRozan’s potential contract extension: The good, the bad and the ugly

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The case against extending or keeping DeRozan

The Spurs and analytics haven’t historically had the most seamless infusion. Perhaps the most conclusive stat to back that up: As a team, San Antonio took by far the most mid-range shots in the NBA, at 24.9 attempts per game. No other team took more than 20.0 per game.

Unsurprisingly, DeRozan and Aldridge ranked first and second, respectively, in mid-range attempts per game (7.2 and 7.1 each).

The point being, the Spurs may not be quick to buy into what advanced metrics are telling them about what happens when DeRozan is or isn’t on the court. Still, the numbers don’t paint the type of picture that would generate excitement for an All-Star caliber player going forward.

For example, consider how the Spurs operate as a whole, when it comes to their stars. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Spurs’ offensive rating balloons to nearly 120 points when Aldridge serves as the focal point without DeRozan, higher than any of the star duos outside of the Curry-plus-Durant mixture.

Meanwhile, the Spurs offensive drops to a more “mortal” rate when DeRozan is on, and Aldridge is off.

It’s worth noting that DeRozan plays against starters more often when the two find their minutes staggered to keep elite offense on the floor. Still, and Synergy Sports help to show that the two did in fact play 2,242 minutes together – by far the most among two-man lineups for the 2018-19 Spurs.

In his article describing “Four stats that defined DeMar DeRozan’s first season with the San Antonio Spurs,”‘s Scott Rafferty discussed a telling stat that showed DeRozan’s deficiency on defense:

"“+4.2: San Antonio’s net rating with DeRozan on the bench San Antonio’s offensive rating was practically the same with and without DeRozan this season, but their defensive rating improved by a sizable amount when he wasn’t out there. According to, the Spurs went from holding opponents to 105.8 points per 100 possessions with DeRozan on the bench to giving up 110.3 with him on the court. (Think the Indiana Pacers, who ranked third in defensive rating this season, compared to the LA Clippers, who ranked 19th).”"

This, of course, negatively ignores what DeRozan did as a jack-of-all-trades type of player. Despite the discrepancy between his actual “position” (Basketball Reference calculates 59 percent of his time this season at small forward, whereas categorizes him as a guard), the Spurs guard is elite among each. DeRozan trails only James Harden, Luka Doncic and Devin Booker among non-point guards in assisted points created, and added 6.2 assists per game.

Whereas DeRozan’s ever-declining free throw rate continues to drop (33.8 percent, lowest of his career), his assist rate has consistently climbed, apexing at 27.6 percent this past season.

The eye test and tracking numbers show DeRozan as different players. When at his best, the two-time All-NBA selection performs as perhaps the league’s premier shooting guard outside of James Harden. The question, though, becomes: How consistent can that be? And will that ever fully translate to postseason play?

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In all likelihood, the Spurs will likely keep DeRozan around for the long haul. But for a franchise that had some of its “perfection” stripped away with the Leonard fiasco, the pressure to strike accurately on DeRozan has never been higher. For his sake, hopefully his tenure with the Spurs won’t be dominated by the thought that he was simply traded for the “best player in basketball.”