DeMar DeRozan is coming off a four-year, $40 million extension signed in 2012 in which he outperformed tremendously and has agreed upon a five-year, $139 million deal with the Toronto Raptors. DeRozan's full max with the Raptors was approximately $152 million so he gave some level of a discount to the Raptors while getting the extra guaranteed year.
DeRozan had a career peak in 15-16 in terms of PER (21.5), Real Plus Minus (1.4), points per game (23.5) and True Shooting Percentage (.550). That production also dipped dramatically in the playoffs to a PER of 14.2, Real Plus Minutes of -3.4, 20.9 points per game and a True Shooting Percentage of .462.
DeRozan is problematic to build around on the wing as he’s not a quality perimeter shooter and also a substantial liability on defense. DeRozan is a volume scorer that creates for himself, shooting comfortably over the top of anyone who defends him and that has definite value, especially in a long regular season when coaches don’t have the time to pick apart his weaknesses the way they do in the playoffs.
The Raptors have done well in complementing what DeRozan does well and keep his weaknesses from being exposed with a strong two-way point guard in Kyle Lowry and a plus defender who can operate on offense as a spot-up shooter in DeMarre Carroll.
DeRozan already sometimes struggles to beat bigs off the dribble and when he does, it often results in a clean look for a long two. DeRozan creates gravity with his perpetual movement without the ball, midrange jumpers and high volume drives to the bucket. DeRozan has also improved in the pick and roll and was one of the NBA’s better scorers in those situations, producing more efficient offense than James Harden at nearly an identical number of possessions. While nowhere near Harden in terms of the number of possessions, DeRozan had a near-identical 0.92 points per possession in isolations, which is just below elite efficiency.
DeRozan scored an excellent 1.22 points per possession in transition, picking his spots wisely.
With the game every other night nature of the NBA, playing against someone like DeRozan who eschews the modern tenets of the game is more difficult than it is in the playoffs when a team can fully game plan for him.
The long-term value of DeRozan’s contract would be less concerning if he wasn’t so averse to physical play. DeRozan has substantially increased his drawn foul rate by attacking the bucket more and that is a major reason why his True Shooting Percentage elevated to .550 this season. The deal doesn't contain a player option for DeRozan, which means he'll be nearly 32 when he hits free agency again. If he still doesn't have a reliable three-point shot by that point in his career, his value will have dropped considerably by then.
DeRozan has the length to play some minutes as a small ball 4 but there’s no way he will be able to hold up physically in the role at this point.
Defensively, DeRozan is certainly no better than average but his effort is consistent. The Raptors were troublingly 4.9 points per 100 possessions worse on defense with DeRozan on the court last season.
When factoring in the contract of Lowry, the Raptors are paying well below fair market value for their pair of All-Star guards. Continuing with this Lowry-DeRozan core likely locks them into the very good but not quite great strata of the NBA for the next few seasons, but that ultimately should have felt like an easy decision for this franchise. The annual average for any other team beyond the Raptors would have been difficult to justify but keeping this going at this price makes sense for both sides.
If Lowry and DeMarre Carroll fall off within the next couple of seasons and Masai Ujiri needs to rebuild, the Raptors should be able to trade DeRozan to a contender.
Grade for Raptors: B+
DeRozan gets to stay with a franchise in which he's already proven his value and is largely beloved instead of starting from scratch with a new team. DeRozan will have the opportunity to play his entire career with Toronto and that would be a special distinction for a still relatively new franchise. DeRozan will never match the peaks of Vince Carter or Chris Bosh and isn't as valuable as even Lowry, but he could go down as the most important player in Raptors' history.
Grade for DeMar DeRozan: A-