On June 25, 2009 with the ninth overall pick, the Toronto Raptors select, DeMar DeRozan. Let the speculation begin.
Toronto’s much heralded and highly touted draft pick from the 2009 NBA draft has already been described as the next Vincent Lamar Carter by some highly respected draft analysts (NBAdraft.net). Wow!
DeRozan is unquestionably an amazing athlete who just happens to already have a good mid-range offensive game and decent rebounding numbers.
But, he has just turned 20. With only one year of college ball, several areas of his game are far from a finished product. A lot of hype is based on undeveloped potential.
Some more conservative thoughts (Draft Express.com) have suggested DeRozan’s prospects are more likely to be somewhere between Rodney Carney and Josh Howard.
Why not take a look at how some of these “similar” players looked like as they were leaving college and draw some conclusions of our own?
First up, DeMar DeRozan’s NBA pre-draft camp measurements place him squarely in the middle, between the average shooting guard and average small forward coming into the league.
DeMar at 6’ 5.5” high in socks, 6’ 6.5” in shoes, and 211 lbs has good size for the wing position, he is just slightly smaller than the average small forward (per Draft Express).
His 6’ 9” wingspan and 8’ 6.5” standing reach, while good, put DeMar squarely in the middle again between shooting guard and small forward.
DeRozan comes into the league in excellent physical shape, evidenced by his 4.9 percent body fat. While his no step vertical was decidedly average at 29”, Demar’s maximum vertical of 38.5” was impressive and confirms DeRozan’s reputation as a leaper!
However, he had a below average five in bench press reps and ran slower than average in lane agility and ¾ court sprints. It isn’t unusual for rookies with only one year of college to under perform in these areas at pre-draft camp, but it does show that DeRozan needs to continue to get stronger and faster.
After one season at USC, Demar averaged 13.9 points, shot 52.3 percent, collected 5.7 boards, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks. More impressively, he averaged 19.8 ppg in USC’s five postseason games.
Summer league play, for what it’s worth, confirmed his college numbers and improving scoring rate.
The Vincent Lamar Carter comparisons are in desperate need of some second thoughts.
Carter came into the NBA a superior athlete with three seasons of college ball at North Carolina as the fifth pick of the 1998 draft.
Aside from the fact that Carter was 6’ 5.5” in socks and weighed 208 lbs, he had a 36” standing vertical jump and a maximum vertical of 43”. (Note in 2009, the highest verticals were: no step 34” and max 40”)
In his final year of college, Carter shot 59 percent, averaged 15.6 points, 5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks.
Carter was a more finished product than DeRozan coming into the NBA and had more physical tools to work with.
And Carter’s first year numbers in the NBA of 18.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3 apg, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks are at such an elite level that comparing DeRozan to Carter at this stage of his career would clearly unfair and unrealistic.
But one can hope? Or dream!
So, moving on...
Drafted 16th in 2006, Rodney Carney, at 6’ 4.5’ in socks and 204 lbs, had the same max vertical jump as DeRozan and tested out stronger and faster.
However, Carney never was a good shooter in college at 43.6 percent. His final year in college showcased rebounding and assist averages that just don’t measure up to DeRozan’s, even though Carney was a four year college player.
When Carney came to the NBA, he was a low percentage shooter good for 6-7 points, two boards, and ½ an assist, steal, and block per game and it hasn’t changed over three seasons.
Carney was, in effect, the same player in the NBA that he was in college.
DeRozan is clearly the more skilled player, and his outlook is certainly much higher than this.
Josh Howard was the 29th pick of the 2003 draft, and he has certainly developed into a high level NBA player.
Howard was 6’ 6.5” in shoes and weighed 204 lbs when he was drafted. His long arms provided a better wingspan at 7’ 2” and standing reach at 8’ 9.5’. He had better speed but fewer bench press reps than DeRozan.
Howard was a four year college player who showed strong improvement in his second college year. But his career scoring was 13.9 points at 50 percent, very similar to DeRozan’s.
The difference is in Howard’s superior rebounding, steals and blocks. But, Howard’s second year scoring closely matches DeRozan’s USC playoff average.
In his first season in the NBA, Josh Howard managed 8.6 points on 43 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, one steal, and 0.8 blocks in 23.7 minutes. And, it took Howard two NBA seasons to find his range from the 3-point line.
These numbers would represent an excellent target for a rookie like DeRozan to aim for in his first NBA season, with the steal and block numbers possibly being tough to achieve.
With the eighth pick in the 2004 NBA draft, the Raptors should have picked Andre Iguodala! But they didn’t, and Iguodala fell to ninth. Maybe the Raptors got it right five years later in 2009.
As a rookie Andre Iguodala was strikingly similar to DeRozan.
At 6’ 5.75” in socks and 217 lbs, Iguodala had a wingspan and reach about two inches further, but his no step vertical and maximum vertical leap numbers fell in between DeRozan’s. Not as strong, but slightly faster, Iguodala makes for a good comparative.
A two year college player, in his first year, Iguodala only managed 6.4 points on 38 percent shooting, but had 4.9 boards, 2 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.6 blocks. And, like DeRozan, started out a very poor 3-point shooter hitting on only 20 percent.
DeRozan clearly came to college as the much better 2-point shooter, but the balance of their stats (minus some steals) are comparable.
Iguodala improved on all aspects of his game in his second college year, and by his first NBA season finally shot the ball better than 49 percent. DeRozan’s game could easily follow a similar path of development, minus the early 2-point shooting woes.
In Iguodala’s first NBA season he shot 49.3 percent, scored 9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 33 minutes.
Except for the steals, these represent very attainable targets for DeRozan to shoot for in his rookie season, even without the 30+ minutes a night.
Perhaps it’s just the pain of remembering the Raptor’s 2004 draft pick when selecting Iguodala as the player DeRozan should be expected to develop into.
But there are distinct parallels to Iguodala’s NBA path.
The Draft Express selection of Josh Howard as DeRozan’s best case certainly isn’t without merit. However, the Rodney Carney worst case scenario would seem to require a complete meltdown on DeRozan’s part.
Maybe the most optimistic projections for DeMar DeRozan are achieved and Raptor fans get to enjoy His Airness 2.0, but the more realistic scenario seems to be that of a Josh Howard or Andre Iguodala type outcome.
And having drafted a player who may only develop into the next Howard or Iguodala is nothing to be concerned about.
Looking for a stat line of 9 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and 0.5 block as a sign of high achievement for a rookie is optimistic enough!
But what are the fans thoughts?