DeMar DeRozan Continues To Be An Enigma

DeMar DeRozan has been an enigma this season that frustrates Raptor fans some nights while thrilling them other nights.

He started off the season by averaging 23 points per game over his first six games and he showed the kind of perimeter shooting that would keep opposing defenses honest.

Then, DeRozan suffered through a rough month in January where he averaged 14.1 points while shooting a miserable 36.7% from the field.

His up-and-down scoring output has resulted in DeRozan’s scoring average dipping to 15.7 points per game after he averaged 17.2 points per game last. While it’s a slight regression, it’s still a regression.

But, over his past three games, DeRozan has stepped it up by averaging 25.3 points per game. This was highlighted by scoring 10 points in the first six minutes of the game against Detroit and finishing with 23 points. Over his past three games, DeRozan has shot a sizzling 59% from the field (30-51) and attempted 12 free throws against Charlotte and six against Detroit.

The resurgence can be attributed to DeRozan attacking defenders when he has the ball—something his head coach refers to as body hunting— and being aggressive without the ball coming hard off of screens.

His head coach, Dwane Casey, told the media the coaching staff has been hounding DeRozan about the need to be aggressive with the ball and off the ball.

“Harping on it,” Casey said after the win against Detroit. “Working on it. That has been part of his practice regiment. Before practice. After practice.”

DeRozan was quick to admit to me a physical style of play is important to success as he told me, “It’s huge because when I’m getting to the free throw line because that’s a six, seven, eight points that can get you me a good rhythm.”

However, it remains to be seen if this has actually clicked for DeRozan. This season there have been games against New Jersey where he went 1-for-6 from the floor and only attempted two free throws and 2-for-8 from the floor against Phoenix where he failed to attempt a free throw. Heck, he is only averaging 4.9 free throws per game and there have been 14 games where he has attempted less than three free throws in a game.

The scary thing is there have been four games where DeRozan has failed to earn a single trip to the free-throw line. There’s no excuse for an athletic guard like DeRozan to not earn a single trip to the free throw line during the course of a game.

Until DeRozan realizes he needs to be aggressive attacking defenders with the ball and coming off curls and screens without the ball, his game will be prone to the wild and erratic swings fans have witnessed this season.