Yo, DeMar. I’m gonna call you Double D from now on (anyone remember Ed, Edd, and Eddy? No?). I’m pretty into the whole first and last name starting with the same letter thing. I totally dig that.
Onto more serious business, though. You dropped 16 spots on the SLAM Top 50 this year, bruh. Like, ouch. From last year’s debut at no. 30 all the way down to no. 46 prior to this 2015-16 NBA season. I can’t say I totally dig that, but I do get it.
Things were a little different last year. The pain from the single point that prevented the Toronto Raptors from seeing the light of Round Two of the Playoffs was still raw. The team came off a stellar regular season with top honors in the Atlantic Division, and they achieved a franchise-best record with 48 wins.
Granted, some of that is the same heading into 2015-16. But there are undeniable differences. Yes, the Raps are hurting from yet another First Round oust, but they were s w e p t by the No. 5 seed Washington Wizards. Yes, they were top of the Atlantic, but it’s the Atlantic. Yes, they hit a new franchise record of 49 wins, but it’s only a one-game improvement.
With so many other guys and teams advancing at a quick rate, going steady has not guaranteed Double D that same spot on the Top 50 as last year. His averages from 2014-15 fell slightly from the previous season, from 22.7 points per game to 20.1, 4 assists to 3.5. His rebounding improved by only a fraction. An injury sidelined the Compton native for almost two months, after he and his Raps started out quite well, even having claimed top spot in the Eastern Conference for a stretch.
Upon his return in January from the injury, DeMar kept up his solid numbers. He went off for a new career-high of 42 points and tied his best in boards with 11. He wrote both highs in his record book on March 30 versus the Houston Rockets and their star in James Harden—you know, the same guy Double D dunked all over in the Drew League a few weeks back.
But with a season that wasn’t exactly jaw-dropping or eyebrow-raising last year and not a whole lot to make us think this year will be too different, DeRozan sits comfortably at our no. 46 spot. That performance at the Drew, and others like it paired with his consistency convinced us the Raptor guard still deserves his name to be on this definitive list, however.
While we can’t imagine The North being too scary of a threat come post-season time, Drake and Justin Bieber’s favorite team will be the pesky neighborhood dude on the court messing with your head, making you question your game, keeping you on your toes, and delivering a few surprises every now and again.
Double D will surely have a lot to do with that.
|SLAM Top 50 Players 2015|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.