Toronto Raptors and DeMar DeRozan's Upside
Does Toronto have a star in their hands? It's way too soon to guess, but I would lean to "no."
I've been following DeMar DeRozan for awhile now, and not because I thought, "hey, this guy looks like a ninth pick and hopefully Toronto gets him, if they get that specific pick!"
No, I've been following him because he became a minor star in the mixtape scene while playing for Compton High School in L.A. If you can jump through the roof and take 30 PPG with you, you're going to get noticed.
Off he went to USC and I'll admit, I kind of lost track of what he'd been up to. In the wide world of YouTube, new "future great" ballers show up seemingly everyday.
The only reason I kept up with him at all is his fascinating relationship with Lil' Romeo, who happened to be his friend from back home as well as squad mate for the Trojans.
It was also unfortunate that his superhuman high school stat line fell back down to earth, where he became the third best scorer (13.9 PPG) on a middling team (23-13 record for 5th out of 10 teams in the Pac-10).
DeRozan is a supreme athlete, for that I have absolutely no doubt. It's just that he didn't do much to distinguish himself during his brief stint in college. I would go as far as to say that if it weren't the 2009 draft (the worst draft pool in recent memory), DeRozan would've been better served by going back to school.
But here we are, and here he is—the ninth pick in a draft that skews every players worth who's not named Blake Griffin (and even then you can make a case). What exactly did the Raptors pick up?
The Raptors are sorely in need of a quality wingman. Anybody who has been watching the Raptors can tell you that. Anthony Parker's good, but he's getting old and there's a chance he may opt to test the free agency waters.
The next best wing player? Joey Graham. Yeah, the Raptors needed this.
Though still raw, DeRozan brings with him an explosive athleticism that doesn't come around very often. He finishes strong above the rim, and looks ridiculously good while doing it. No, he isn't the second coming of Vince Carter, but I wouldn't be surprised if DeRozan developed into a Jason Richardson-esque player (like I said, not the greatest draft ever).
The downside? He hasn't exactly developed a dominating game to go along with his athleticism. His jump shot leaves a lot to be desired, and don't even mention the three. He averaged a dismal 16 percent from outside the arc from college distance.
He's also not much of a passer, or rather the USC system hasn't given him much of a chance to show if he's any good.
The preliminary outlook? He'll get more than decent playing time in his rookie year and he'll develop into a nice complimentary player. He'll be solid and give a consistent performance with the occasional flash of brilliance whenever he has the ball and nobody's between him and the basket.
Just don't expect an All-Star. It'd be nice, but unlikely.
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