Maybe you haven’t been tuning in to DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs every night. Maybe you haven’t noticed how well the Spurs best player has been playing. That’s fine. But you’ve definitely seen DeRozan’s recent dunk, which was so hard it almost certainly altered the Earth’s orbit.
Now that he has your attention, let’s talk about why DeRozan is like a front court player, even though he’s a perimeter player in real life.
Here’s a list of the 13 best field goal percentages in the NBA this season, out of the 125 players who average at least 10 shots per game. All of the below players are considered “Bigs” or front court players...all save one…(can you spot the outlier?)
- Clint Capela, C, 6’10”, 63.8 FG% (7.13 Player Rater)
- Jonas Valanciunas, C, 6’11”, 60.2 FG% (8.22 PR)
- Hassan Whiteside, C, 7’0”, 59.8 FG% (13.02 PR)
- Bam Adebayo, C/PF, 6’9”, 59.3 FG% (10.50 PR)
- Montrezl Harrell, C/PF, 6’7”, 57.5 FG% (6.18 PR)
- Ben Simmons, PG (lol), 6’10”, 56.1 FG% (9.70 PR)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/SF, 6’11”, 55 FG% (12.42 PR)
- DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, 6’6”, 53.5 FG% (9.65 PR, #24 overall)
- Andre Drummond, C, 6’10”, 53 FG% (12.03 PR)
- Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, 6’11”, 52.8 FG% (8.36 PR)
- Tristan Thompson, C, 6’9”, 51.3 FG% (4.26 PR)
- Nikola Jokic, C, 7’0”, 51 FG% (12.07 PR)
- LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, 6’11”, 50.8 FG% (10.16 PR)
DeRozan is shooting like he’s one of the best bigs in the entire goddamn game, and he’s four inches shorter than most of them. He definitely doesn’t play the same position as the rest of these guys: DeChozan is SECOND IN THE NBA in drives per game. He is a perimeter player through and through (...except for defense…)(and, except for three-point shooting). Okay, wait, I said it wrong: He’s a two guard from 1983. DeRozan drives to the basket as much as Ice Trae Young does in Hotlanta; more than De’Aaron Fox, who can access the Speed Force, like Flash; more than Sergeant Russell Westbrook, more than Bradley Beal, more than LeBron James, and more than Maestro Dame Lillard. Ben Simmons drives to the basket 11 times a game; ditto, Giannis. DeMar DeRozan drives to the bucket twenty times a game. And, that’s not even tops in the league! Trae Young averages twenty-point-one drives per game!
Tracking data only goes back to 2013-14, so we can’t compare DeChozan and Trae to players from history. But, if they both continue to average 20+ drives per game, they’ll join the only other person who has also done that since 2013: the Sarge, Russell Westbrook. In 2016-17, Westbrook averaged 20.1 drives per game (Westbrook shot 45 FG% that year). No one else has done it.
Trae Young’s shooting 44% from the floor this year. DeRozan’s shooting nearly 10 percentage points better than him. Neither of these guards can play defense well (or, at all, in Ice Trae’s case), and their offensive profiles are as different as night and day, but they both get to the hoop more than anybody else.
DeRozan is averaging 22+ PPG, 5+ RPG, and 5+ APG. Here’s the list of people doing that: Westbrook, LeBron, Kawhi, Luka, Giannis, and Harden. AND DECHOZAN. You know what? Eff the points like DeMar says eff the threes: only 15 players average 5 RPG and 5 APG! And, he has the third-best field goal percentage of that group.
He’s a top 25 player in fantasy, despite making fewer than 10 3PM on the year. Other players to do that are Whiteside, Drummond, Richaun Holmes, Bam Adebayo, Ben Simmons, Rudy Gobert, and Clint Capela. All of those guys are enormous front court players, except for Simmons, who is an enormous everywhere player. And, DeRozan scores as much as Joel Embiid, another enormous person.
DeMar DeChozan is basically a Reverse Unicorn: he’s an old school two-guard who doesn’t shoot threes. There are far, far, far fewer of him than there are unicorns in the New NBA. He’s one of the most efficient shooting bigs in the NBA, and he’s only 6’6”, and he’s one of the best perimeter players at penetration, but he doesn’t shoot threes. He’s one of the most interesting players in the NBA.