The storyline for the Toronto Raptors in these NBA playoffs has been the monumental struggles of the team’s two best players. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, two All-Stars, have been shooting the two worst individual field goal percentages of the entire playoffs.
I’d like to focus on DeRozan.
I think DeRozan is a terrific talent and he’s worked his way into the upper echelon of NBA shooting guards. He’s made a major maturation into his offensive game, particularly with his mid range shooting, and that’s been a necessary progression because of the role DeRozan has to play for the Raptors as a primary scorer.
I’m not saying DeRozan shouldn’t be considered a top-tier player or can’t continue to aspire to that pinnacle, but I do think he’s somewhat of a victim of his circumstance.
DeRozan has to be a high-volume scorer for the Raptors. He and Lowry are the only players that can consistently create their own shot. But I don’t think it’s necessarily fair for us to evaluate DeRozan in this setting, because he could very well be out of his element. In his playoff career, DeRozan averages just under 20 shots per game, and he’s never shot better than 40 percent from the field or 37 percent from three.
Big and broad picture — imagine if DeRozan could play the role that Andre Iguodala plays on Golden State. That’s not to diminish DeRozan’s ability at all, but more so to highlight the fact that we might appreciate his game more if he had more seasoned surroundings. I’m not claiming that DeRozan should be relegated to a role player either, rather that his atmosphere could possibly be tainting how we judge him as a player. Right now, DeRozan is expected to be more Tracy McGrady than Andre Iguodala, and I fear that expectation might be creating an unattainable standard for him.
I’ll be rooting for DeRozan to continue his evolution as a player, and I do believe he has the capability to reach another level, but I also believe it’s important to understand how environment can shape the perception of a player.