Enjoying three warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven rather than two. Praying with your eyes closed for the official at the scorer’s table to add just one more second to the game clock following a hectic play in the fourth quarter, as the sweat drips down your face and onto the hardwood. Losing a Game 7 in the first NBA Playoffs series of your career 104-103 by a single point on your home floor. What a difference the number one makes.
For DeMar DeRozan, that last scenario mentioned above is the most prominent of them all as he heads into the 2014-15 NBA season. A mere one point was what separated him and the Toronto Raptors from the glory of the second round, a destination T-Dot has been exiled from since the 2000-01 season.
Despite the loss in the final seconds of last season’s first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, DeRozan sure had a hell of a run in his fifth year as a pro basketball player that cannot be undermined by any means. The Compton native averaged career-best numbers across the board, including 22.7 points per game, good for ninth in the L, along with 4.3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.1 steals. Not to mention, he recorded 3,017 minutes, the third highest total number of minutes played last year behind only Kevin Durant and Monta Ellis.
Before wrapping up the first half of the 2013-14 season, DeRozan set two career-highs. The first, a stellar 40-point game in a win over the Dallas Mavericks in late January. The second, 12 assists in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in early February.
After he made the trip down to New Orleans to play in his first All-Star Game, DeRozan continued leading his Toronto Raptors to victories, and the team eventually secured the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the third seed in the East with 48 wins, not caring for a second whose predictions they proved wrong along the way.
Next came the grueling series versus the Nets, which ended with that one-point loss to conclude DeRozan’s first-ever Playoffs series. A heartbreaking result, no doubt. But more than that, it was a motivation and a learning experience DeMar carries with him into this new season. An emotional moment serving as a reminder to do whatever he can to avoid another similar result.
Following his breakout season last year, a successful Gold medal run with Team USA in Spain this summer during the Basketball World Cup, and consistent workouts sometimes with and sometimes without teammate Terrence Ross, we placed DeMar DeRozan at No. 30 in the #SLAMTop50, which is also his debut on this list of definitive rankings.
Although he said he doesn’t give heed to others’ expectations at Media Day earlier this week, I’m gonna go ahead and list mine for the guy who shares my birthday here anyway. Ready, DeMar?
I expect a number of high-flying dunks that’ll take me back to your gravity-defying shows of athleticism in Dunk Contests of All-Star Weekends past. I expect more career-high nights in the form of 40-point games here or there and some sweet dishin’ to your teammates. I expect a second appearance at the All-Star Game, which will come at the perfect halfway mark of the season, giving you a well-deserved break and some time to kick back in New York City. I expect you to take the Toronto Raptors to another Playoffs berth, with help from guys like Kyle Lowry who is an integral part of the North’s chemistry and the added bench support from new additions like Lou Williams. I also expect some more tweets from you, because I’m a Twitter gal.
Oh, and this last one is for Drake I guess, but yeah, I expect your name to be announced like this again (at the 1:04 mark below):
Of course, DeMar DeRozan is in no way playing to meet my or anyone else’s expectations. He’ll just step on to the court and do what he does night in and night out—you know—be that guy who makes the rest of us down in The States pay attention to the dudes in The North for yet another NBA season.
But really, this time, not one of us ought to be surprised.
|#SLAMTop50 Players 2014|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’14-15—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.