WHEN the Bucks called a timeout less than three minutes into their game against the Raptors I googled ‘DeMar DeRozan’ to double-check his career-high. As expected it was in the mid 40’s (45 against Philly 12 days earlier to be exact) and I thought to myself ‘he could get that tonight’. Out of the timeout, he scored another 12 points in the quarter to finish with 21 after one and what stood out to me was the three deep balls he hit with unreal confidence. Last night was the perfect testimony to the way DeRozan has evolved his game entering 2018.
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DEMAR finished the 131-127 overtime win against Milwaukee with a career-best (and new franchise record) 52 points as Toronto won their 12th straight game at the Air Canada Centre. He became the first player to score 50+ on New Year’s Day, much to the delight of the 19,800+ in attendance (including yours truly). There have been signs that an outburst like this was possible from DeRozan, who less than two weeks ago against Philly hit a career-high six 3’s in his 45 point game.
THAT ability to shoot the three consistently might just see DeRozan take the next step to become a true superstar of the league. He is 20-38 from deep in his last seven games, which is the most three’s he has both made and attempted throughout any seven-game stretch of his career. A 28.8% shooter from deep through his 630 NBA games so far, DeRozan has never been an elite marksman, but he is re-writing his narrative in the 2017-18 so far.
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THE Raptors are benefiting from DeRozan’s efficiency from 3-point land as well. Off to the fastest start in franchise history through 35 games (25-10) they currently own the fourth-best record in the league behind Boston, Houston and Golden State. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders led by their All-Star duo in DeRozan and Lowry, who are well supported by the rest of their squad. That balanced level of production has not only helped them offensively but defensively as well as Toronto has become a top-six team inefficiency on both sides of the ball.
THE debate over DeMar DeRozan as the greatest Toronto Raptor ever is gaining steam this season as the team continues to improve, after seemingly peaking in the last few seasons. Maybe this is the year they finally break through and make the NBA Finals and if they do then it will be largely because of DeMar’s play. There’s still a long way to go but there are promising signs north of the border early in 2018.
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