DeMar, on the other hand, has shown signs he is understanding his limitations as a player, and how to maximize what he does well. I've highlighted three statistical examples (let me just get this out of the way now: yes, I know we are dealing with a (very) small sample size. let's move on):
- Rebounding: DeMar might never be a great instinctual defender, but he is athletic, and he has gotten stronger over the off-season. So, at the very least, there is no reason why he shouldn't be one of the most active rebounding guards in the league. And so far, DeRozan's career-best rebounding rate is the fourth-best in the NBA among shooting guards (minimum 20 mins/game):
- Klay Thompson - 11%
- J.R. Smith - 10%
- Thabo Sefolosha - 10%
- DeMar DeRozan - 9%
- Iguodala/Bryant/Curry - 8%
- Ballhandling: Similar to defensive instincts in basketball, passing is a similar attribute, you either have court vision, or you don't. And while I'm comfortable saying DeRozan will never have even average assist totals, he has made up for that by being very protective of the basketball. His turnover rate of 4% is a career-low, and it's third-best in the NBA among shooting guards with a usage rate above 15%.
- Shot distribution: I've talked about this many times in the past, and it's becoming prevailing wisdom even in the mainstream media now: the long 2-point field goal is the most inefficient shot in basketball. However, that shot was one of DeRozan's favourites last season. There are signs he is learning to alter that shot chart. Last season, around 55% of DeRozan's two-point field goals were outside the paint (with the corresponding 45% inside). Through three games this season, those numbers have flipped (45% outside the paint, 55% inside), and it's resulted in a career-high true shooting percentage (59%).