NBA PM: DeMar DeRozan Preparing To Dominate?
The Toronto Raptors have been something of a puzzle over the last few seasons. They’ve had plenty of talent and a respected head coach, but until last year they didn’t seem to have a solid direction.
Now, with the team emerging from their first full training camp under second-year head coach Dwane Casey and with a star-caliber point guard in Kyle Lowry at the helm, expectations are at an all-time high for the Raptors.
One of the primary reasons why the Raptors are expected to be in the playoff mix once they get healthy is the anticipated emergence of DeMar DeRozan, who just inked a contract extension that will keep him in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
“Yeah, it is [nice to get the extension]; it definitely is,” DeRozan tells HOOPSWORLD. “It’s where I started and it’s where I want to end at the end of the day, so I’m just going to go out and lay everything on the line every time I’m on the floor.”
Not only is DeRozan committed to being the best player he can be on the court, he is also committed to making Toronto an attractive destination for free agents who are looking for a winning situation.
“That’s my whole goal is to change that around, show guys that it’s fine to play here and once everything gets rolling our way, it’ll be well worth it,” says DeRozan. “I’m very confident once we give the city what they’re expecting, it’ll be well worth it playing in Canada. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Coach Casey believes the arrival of Lowry will help push DeRozan to the next level, and there is already some evidence that his reasoning is sound.
“Kyle will help him,” says Casey. “They have a little chemistry growing, and before Kyle got hurt, DeMar had two big time games, I think he had 22, and 25, I think it was, so he’s the core of our youth movement, and we’re banking on him, we’re betting on him, and I’ve seen nothing but good things. He’s made strides this year from last year, so we’re banking on him continuing to making those strides going into the future.”
“That’s my goal,” Lowry tells HOOPSWORLD of his plans for DeRozan. “He’s a great young talent and has so many amazing attributes that it doesn’t make any sense for him not to be a star. His post game is getting better, his jump shot is getting better, he just has to learn to be the guy who can take over games and also know when to take over games.”
“I learned a lot through him during training camp, through preseason,” DeRozan says of Lowry. “It’s fun every time I’m out there with him, starting with him, he pushes me. I try to push him as much as we can, try to make it a threat when you face us with our back court. That’s not even including our front court.”
The potential is there for Toronto, once Lowry works through his ankle injury. Still, the team is very much a work in progress as they get used to the new pieces and try to put together some complete games.
“We’re jelling, here and there on the offensive and defensive end,” says DeRozan. “There’s a lot we have to clean up to get better, especially in the fourth quarter. There’s been a couple games that we’ve given away in the fourth quarter, we just got to learn how to play a full 48-minute game.”
The NBA season is a long one, and young teams like the Raptors need every game and every practice to evolve into the team they are going to be. Still, even early on, we’ve seen tremendous potential from the team’s new backcourt duo, and DeRozan looks like he may be on the brink of becoming the player the Raptors have always hoped he would become.
The Triangle Was The Rub?
Over the weekend it was widely believed that the Los Angeles Lakers were on the verge of bringing back former head coach Phil Jackson to coach the team in the wake of Mike Brown’s abrupt dismissal. That all changed late last night, when former New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni agreed to terms on a three-year deal to coach the team.
The early word was that Jackson’s demands were over the top, including games off due to travel, final say on roster moves, possibly an ownership stake and a price tag starting at $10 million per season. When D’Antoni’s was closer to $12 million for the length of his deal, the Lakers made their decision quickly.
Of course, now that the story has been floating around for a few hours, things are starting to surface that suggest the initial reports were not entirely accurate.
First of all, according to an ESPN report, Jackson’s agent had not yet met with the Lakers, and no demands were made regarding salary or powers beyond the normal coaching duties. According to the same report, Jackson wasn’t expecting to take games off, and he wasn’t looking for a ridiculous amount of money, either. Further, Jackson was said to be “stunned” that the Lakers had made a decision without even waiting to meet with is agent.
What’s surfacing now (wouldn’t it be nice if we could just wait until all the facts are in before we start reporting every tidbit anyone is willing to drop?), is that the triangle offense was more of a concern for the Lakers’ brass, who had seen their team struggle to learn the similarly-complicated Princeton offense under Brown.
It helped that D’Antoni has a great relationship with both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, whom he coached in Phoenix, and that the Lakers have a number of defensive-minded players in place who should help make up for D’Antoni’s lack of defensive emphasis. Under D’Antoni’s system the Lakers are going to score, and likely at an elite level. The defense will take care of itself with Bryant, Dwight Howard and Meta World Peace spearheading the effort.
The one thing the Lakers’ brass wanted to do going forward was simplify the offense, and with D’Antoni in place the Lakers’ offense should be as simple as pie … simply very hard to stop.
After the Denver Nuggets traded away Carmelo Anthony, head coach George Karl famously said he didn’t think his team needed a superstar to compete for a championship. He later offered a little bit of clarification, saying that he felt there were potential stars in his locker room already, and that their combined evolutions would likely yield multiple stars and lead to the Nuggets being contenders.
At the time he said it, Karl was thinking along the lines of Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and perhaps Wilson Chandler. He certainly wasn’t thinking that someone they were about to draft with the 22nd overall selection would jump to the front of the line, but that’s exactly what Kenneth Faried seems to be doing.
Today, Faried was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week after helping the Nuggets to a 4-0 week, posting three double-doubles in the process. Faried averaged 16.8 points on .563 shooting from the field to go alongside 12.8 rebounds (second in the conference to Memphis’ Zach Randolph’s 14.3 rpg), 1.8 blocks and 1.0 steals. Faried tallied 18 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and two steals during a 107-101 victory at Golden State to close the week. On the season, he’s averaging 13.9 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field.
In short, Faried is off to an outstanding start, and Denver’s four wins are a direct result of his increased involvement.
The Nuggets may, indeed, have a budding superstar in their midst, just not one of the names Karl would have guessed coming into the season.
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