I think that in a post Bosh world, the Toronto Raptors will be counting on the group that is known as The Young Guns to grow and develop. We do not know the future for one of them in Amir Johnson, who will be a free agent this summer. Sonny Weems has a team option for less than a million dollars. Which in NBA terms is a bargain basement deal. While Demar enters year number two of his rookie contract. There was a great amount of expectation for DeRozan. He was the people's choice last year heading into the draft. In one of the rare occurrences in Raptors history where they would select the player fans wanted. Ed O'Bannon was the peoples choice in the Raptors first draft. In the end the people got it wrong as Ed only lasted 2 years in the NBA. While the Raptors choice Damon Stoudamire went on to win the Rookie of the Year. Demar had a ton of hype that only grew when upon being drafted he tweeted to the world that Air Canada was back. Which immediately made the Vince Carter comparisons made of DeRozan's athleticism by some scouts, turn into for some fans the replacement for Vince had been found. Heir Canada was a nickname that caught on with many including this blog.
While there are some similarities as both would represent the Raptors in the dunk contest. Vince won it and Demar made it to the finals and had the best dunk of the night in his contest. Vince had the best 3 or 4 in his when he won the contest. But the reality is that Vince and Demar are not a like in many ways. First and foremost in their personality. Vince Carter has an ego that is as big as the Air Canada Centre, that he called his house even after he left. Carter has always been a story of unfulfilled potential. You only need to read the press clippings from the Magic vs Celtics series to see that not a lot has changed about V.C. While Demar has a work ethic that is so impressive it even got praise from Kobe Bryant. In fact if you are a dedicated follower of Demar on Twitter, you already know he is hard at work getting ready for next season. He is what people lovingly refer to as a gym rat. Something that is said of Canada's favourite baller Steve Nash.
My expectations for DeRozan next season are likely higher than a lot of people. I expect a huge jump in production from him and a much sounder defender. I thought it would be interesting to see where Demar stacks up historically to some comparable players. The high end examples of that would be Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. Both who skipped college and went straight to the pros. Demar because of the new rules for the draft spent a year at USC, but is roughly in the same age bracket. So here is how they stacked up.
DeRozan played more minutes than both Bryant and McGrady with DeRozan logging 1,664 minutes and Kobe and McGrady played 1,103 and 1,179 respectfully.DeRozan also started more games than McGrady and Bryant combined. He also had a better FG% shooting 49.8% while Kobe was just 41.7% and T-Mac was an even 45% .Kobe leads this trio at the free throw line shooting 81.9% while DeRozan was 76.3% and McGrady 71.2%. But DeRozan averaged more points with 8.6 points. While Bryant averaged 7.6 points and McGrady was 7.0 even.
Pretty surprising isn't it? This is not to suggest that Demar is going to be as good as these 2 in his career. However it puts into perspective what Demar accomplished in his first season. Judging by the numbers on Bryant and McGrady my hopes may be ahead of schedule for Demar. Bryant and McGrady made the big jumps in their careers in years 3 and 4.
Some folks closer to Demar in experience would be O.J Mayo also out of USC and Courtney Lee of Nets. They just finished there 2nd seasons in the NBA. Mayo saw his scoring totals dip. While Lee added to his ppg playing for a much less talented Nets team.
An X-Factor in Demar DeRozan and his development could come to the Raptors in a Bosh sign and trade. If Chicago is the winner of the Chris Bosh sign and trade derby, it would make a ton of sense to see Taj Gibson coming back as part of a sign and trade. Is their room for a 4th young gun? That or would Gibson replace Amir Johnson as the 3rd young gun. The addition of Gibson would be interesting as he himself had a successful rookie campaign in Chicago.
I guess the point to doing this is to remind people that Rome was not built in a day. Andrea Bargnani still isn't and we are at year 5 coming up. DeRozan may not have made the splash that Vince Carter did. He may not have even made the splash the top of his rookie class has with Evans, Curry and Jennings. A NBA career is not a 100 meter dash it is a marathon. At least you hope it is. If you continue to improve and grow. Given the character and make-up of Demar DeRozan that is a safe bet. How good he can be is just speculation. But I always remember Demar saying to me in an interview that he wants to be not just good but great. Sure those are just words, but when you combine it with the work ethic this young man has shown. It might be wise not to bet against him. Should Chris Bosh be done with the Raptors an opportunity will be there to be the "next one" for this franchise. That is a challenge that DeRozan may just embrace.