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DeRozan Unlikely To Be 'Other Rookie' For Long

Can you think of anyone in their right mind that would publicly say they could beat LeBron James in this year?s dunk contest?

Well, meet Toronto?s DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan, a rookie out of the University of Southern California, told RealGM that he could win the dunk contest this year even if LeBron was his main competitor.

?Yeah I can win it,? said DeRozan. ?I don?t care if Jordan was in it.?

The 6?7? high-flying act sure isn?t short of confidence.? And that confidence should only grow as the 20-year old gets more experience under his belt.

?We?re only 19 games in,? DeRozan said prior to Toronto?s loss Wednesday night in Atlanta.??I haven?t played half an NBA season yet. I?m just trying to learn and get better every time I get out there.?

Despite starting in all 20 of Toronto?s games, DeRozan seems to be a rookie less talked about - probably because of the instant successes of Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans.?After seeing him against the Hawks, however, I wouldn?t expect him to go too unnoticed for much longer.

DeRozan was the Raptors? lone bright spot in the 146-115 beat down by Atlanta.?He logged a career high 30 minutes and netted 21 points - also a career high.

The rookie went right by Mike Bibby with one step on numerous occasions and even drew a couple double teams.? Bibby was absolutely helpless.?Thankfully for him, however, Atlanta is so long in the frontcourt with Josh Smith and Al Horford that Bibby gets bailed out a lot of the times.

What I like most about DeRozan?s game is that he doesn?t settle for jump shots.?His strength is attacking the basket and that?s what he focuses on. He shot 12 free throws against the Hawks and converted nine of them. He also did not commit a turnover in the game, an impressive feat when considering his style of play.

Although Toronto allowed a staggering 146 points, DeRozan?s defense was actually pretty solid.?He matched up against Joe Johnson for most of the game and when he was on him, Johnson was relatively quiet.

Defense is something that DeRozan takes pride in.?He understands that in order to be the best player he can be, he needs to learn how to defend the top guards in the league.

?I?m working on just my overall game,? he said. ?I need to make myself a complete player.?It was a privilege to be drafted in the top 10, especially to a team like Toronto.? I just want to help the organization the best I can.?

As the season progresses, look for DeRozan to get more and more playing time under Jay Triano whom DeRozan is making a good impact on.

?He?s gotten better every time,? Triano said. ?He?s starting to understand the NBA game.?We?re giving him enough minutes early in games where he goes and attacks the basket.?He?s a great kid.?He comes in early and works.?He stays late and works. He?s got a great future just because of his attitude.?

Yeah, that, and he has enough ups to challenge the game?s greatest players in the most electrifying competition.

Maybe LeBron won?t back out of February?s festivities now that a rookie has called him out.

--Brian Reynolds is a contributing writer for RealGM and a recent graduate of Emory University. He can be reached at Brian.Matthew.Reynolds@gmail.com. ?Follow him on Twitter at BReynolds404.


Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks

Miami Has Their Moon

Sure, the Jermaine O?Neal and Shawn Marion trade was a big deal.? After all, they share a total of 10 All-Star appearances.? Yet, no one seems to be talking about the other part of the move.? You know, that other guy Miami received in the trade.? The guy who held Andre Igoudala scoreless in the fourth quarter to help secure a victory for a team where every win is as important as President Obama?s bailout plan.? The guy who was just inserted into the starting lineup and responded with 17 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes of action against the Knicks.? Yeah, that guy.? Nobody is talking about Jamario Moon.? It?s okay though, he?s used it.

?I don?t think about it too much,? Moon told RealGM of being overlooked, prior to Friday night?s game in Atlanta.? ?You know, I?m making the most out of the opportunity I got now.? I?m here right now and that?s all that matters.? I don?t look back.? I don?t forget where I came from, but I don?t look back and think a lot of people overlooked me.?

Moon played his college ball at Meridian Community College in Mississippi.? There, he averaged almost 21 points a game while pulling down nearly nine boards a contest.? He declared for the 2001 NBA Draft, but was left wondering if his dream of being an NBA player would ever come true after his name was not called.

Jamario could have given up.? That would have been the easier route.? Instead, he bounced around all over the world for the next six years.? He played ball in the Mexican League and even was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. In 2007, Moon was finally able to impress some scouts and landed himself a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors.

What was so impressive about Jamario?s workout?? Well, you could start with the flashy dunks.? Or maybe it?s his range from the outside.? If you ask him, however, he?ll say it all starts on the defensive end.

?That?s how I got in this league,? Moon said.? ?That was my knack.? I?ve got to continue to do what I do.? I?ve got to continue to keep being aggressive on the defensive end so I can stay on the floor.?

When asked if being traded to Miami frustrated him at all, Moon responded, "It wouldn?t do any good to be mad, right?? You know you?ve got to make good out of any situation.? But of course I?m happy to be out of the snow [in Toronto].? It?s a better situation here too."

For Jamario Moon, it?s just another chapter in his life?s journey.? For Miami, however, it?s a diamond in the rough.? Many considered Moon as a throw-in of the O?Neal-Marion trade.? In Saturday?s win against New York, Moon played the second most minutes of anybody on the team, only two behind Dwayne Wade and six more than O?Neal.

That isn?t ?throw-in? type playing time.? Moon is expected to be a valuable part of Miami?s playoff run.? In the short time he?s been with the team, he already has his coach?s attention.

?Jamario has been playing very good minutes for us,? Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said.? ?He?s extremely active defensively and he?ll give us that type of presence each game.?

So, give Miami some credit for going out and getting in Jermaine O?Neal.? But, don?t forget about the other part of the deal, because Jamario Moon is a name that might be around in Miami a lot longer than Jermaine's.

- Brian Reynolds is a contributing writer from Emory University and can be reached at Brian.matthew.reynolds@gmail.com


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