Through the first nine games of the season, DeMar DeRozan‘s historic start has garnered quite a bit of attention, and it’s certainly been warranted.
When somebody tells him about the accolades he’s earned less than a month into the year, he doesn’t believe it, but the Raptors veteran guard does take solace in the fact that he’s done it his way.
“I’m a very rebellious person,” DeRozan told reporters at shoot around. “When somebody tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it just to show you it could be done. The cool thing I find, to me, is when people say the mid-range game’s not dead.
“I never let nobody depict or tell me how to play basketball. If I get it done—if anybody can get it done in any type of style—that’s all that matters.”
In eight out of those first nine, DeRozan has scored at least 32 points in every game. He’s the first player since Michael Jordan (’86-87) to score 30 in the seven out of the first eight games of the season.
Remarkably, the brunt of DeRozan’s damage comes in between 10 and 23 feet through jump shots, where he’s gone 69-of-125 (55.2 percent) so far. The 27-year-old has also cashed in on 52 percent of his jumpers from 3 to 10 feet while taking less than two three-pointers per game.
DeRozan is averaging nearly 23 field goal attempts per game as well. It’s a mindset, he says, that emulates one of his childhood idols.
“That’s how I grew up watching basketball or watching some of my favorite players,” he said. “Allen Iverson was one of my favorite players. He’s in the game 11-for-35, but he won the game. He was going out there every night playing on the floor trying to win the games, so I always had that mentality.”
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) November 15, 2016
Now in his eighth year in the league, DeRozan credits his maturation as the biggest factor for his success out of the gate.
“I feel like I’ve been in every scenario when it comes to basketball-wise—late game, going against certain defenders, big guys, smaller guys, seeing double teams. Everything is stuck in my mind, so when I go out there, I’m familiar with everything, so it makes everything else come easier.”
DeRozan’s long-time partner in the Toronto backcourt, Kyle Lowry, admits that it’s ‘definitely cool’ to see his teammate’s name with select company.
“I tell him stuff about it, but I think it’s something when he retires from basketball, whenever that is years from now, and he goes back to look at this start he’s having and the things he’s doing in his career—It’s something to be like, ‘Wow. That was an amazing time for me in my life.’”
The Raptors have an undesirable back-to-back, starting Tuesday night in Cleveland and continuing Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre against the Warriors.
Though it’s early in the season, DeRozan looks at it as a way to see where Toronto—a team that he believes is already better than it was before because of its experiences in the postseason—truly stands among the NBA’s elite.
“As a competitor you look forward to this,” he said. “When I’d seen it on the schedule, it’s something you look at and you can’t wait to test yourself. You’re playing against the two teams that was in the Finals last year.
“It don’t get no better than that early in the season to see where we at.”