DeMar DeRozan Surges Onto The NBA's Radar
Success is no fluke for the potential 2014 All-Star
Since the Toronto Raptors traded Rudy Gay away late last year, players and fans alike have started paying attention to the Canadian team thanks to one player in particular: DeMar DeRozan. It’s not that the shooting guard hasn’t always been there, pushing and motivating his teammates—it’s just that it’s easy to fly under the radar when you’re always putting in extra effort like he does, studying game tape at home and working out at the gym in his spare time. Maybe the humble 24-year-old with a rep for loyalty won’t say it, but his diligence is paying off.

DeRozan played a career game against the Dallas Mavericks last week, clinching a 93-85 home win and scoring a personal high of 40 points. The player has also helped carry his team forward through a hot streak that’s turning heads. In the process, the purist and born competitor may have foiled what some say was an attempt by Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to move the team down in the standings. Instead, the team is currently placed fourth in the East, making playoffs a possibility.

Now, the rest of the NBA is starting to see what Raptors fans have known all along—that DeMar’s an all-star. He received 131,228 fan votes in the ballots, and it’s easy to conclude that he’ll have even more support when reserves are picked later this week. We caught up with DeRozan the night of his career game for a quick courtside chat about the hard work he had to put in to reach his prime.

Photo: Mark Runyon/Creative Commons/Cropped image Since your rookie season, your improvement has been steady. You’ve made more 3-pointers so far this year than in all of last season, your assists have almost doubled and you just scored a career high of 40 points. You are now seeing the fruits of your labour. Are you living proof that hard work pays off?
DeMar DeRozan: Without a doubt. It’s clearly evident, year in and year out.

BnR: We often hear the expression “the game is slowing down” for a player. What was the moment in your career that the game started slowing down for you?
DD: I’d have to say my third year. My game really started slowing down because at that point—playing a lot of minutes and starting for a season—you’ve seen almost every situation, almost every defensive coverage, and you know how to use that to your advantage. That’s when they use the term “slowing down,” that’s what that means. Understanding rotations, you’re understanding where the ball needs to go, how to get to the basket.

Photo: Gabriel Li/Creative Commons/Cropped image

BnR: In a brief but powerful personal note posted to the TrueHoop blog, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, who was impressed by your work ethic, described you as a “gym rat” who most enjoys being “in close proximity to a basketball court.” You do double workouts offseason, work with Gary Payton—are you the type of guy that prefers to let his game do the talking?
DD: Yeah, I’m not the type of guy who’d be putting up video, and tape all my summer workouts to show people how I’m working, you know? I’m the type to—I’m going to go out on the court, you know, you can see it, my game’s getting better, I’ve been working on all aspects of my game, and not just my game, my body as well.

Photo: Mark Runyon/Creative Commons/Cropped image

BnR: Kiara Morrison (DeRozan’s fiancee), she’s always by your side from the home to the gym, from watching tape to the ACC sidelines. How much of your success has to do with her?
DD: A lot, you know. First of all, it’s good seeing her being a mother to my daughter, it definitely means a lot, and you know that’s big just to see what women have to go through raising their child. At the same time, she’s a basketball fanatic, and sometimes I don’t want to hear it but she definitely pushes me, telling me the things other people probably wouldn’t.

BnR: The Raptors have seen their fair share of players leave for cities south of the border. We’ve seen your frustrations from lack of calls to everyone telling you you're not in a big-program city. What has kept you here when so many others would have left and have left?
DD: I’m not anybody else, man. You know, I do everything off loyalty. Fans love and fight for me, I will do the same thing for them. That’s just my mentality, that’s how I’ve always been. I don’t care who left, who came, who went. I don’t care about what people say about ‘this team would be a better fit.’ Whatever. I’m here. This is the place where I want to be, and [I want to] show people that’s why I work so hard.

Photo: Gabriel Li/Creative Commons/Cropped image

BnR: The fans have already spoken, but how would you feel if you were finally officially recognized by your peers as an All-Star player? What would that honour mean to you?
DD: It means a lot, and not just for myself, [but] to go out there and represent the country of Canada. Now, that’s definitely big. The last [Raptors] All-Star was Chris [Bosh]. I haven’t played with him in—you know, it’s been about five years. So it definitely means a lot.

BnR: Thank you for your time, we appreciate it! Congratulations on your career-high game.
Posted on Jan 26, 2014


Guest: I hoop you will not leav the canada just like vince did !!

Replied on Jan 27, 2014 @ 1:07 PM

Mark: Always thought it was interesting that after Bosh left, he made a point to turn the attention to Demar. Most everyone else was talking about how it was now "Bargnani's team, come hell or high water" and other nonsense, yet Bosh never played that- he always knew he was passing the torch to DeRozan. And even now when you see them together, you can feel the Mentor/Protege vibe, it's undeniable, communicating in ways the rest of us may never understand. Who knows what the truth is surrounding the way that Bosh left but I, for one, am glad that DeRozan is still here.

Replied on Jan 27, 2014 @ 1:40 PM

JL: Bosh bounced on this team, before free agency. That season we had tied a team best pre-allstar game record. He was "injured" for 3 weeks, but didn't play despite being cleared by the doctors the next day, we'd end up not making the playoffs. So I don't know what you're talking about Mentor/Protege bs.... Demar hasn't quit on this team and when people thought we were gonna tank after the Rgay trade, we excelled, because we have players with heart, unlike Bosh.

Replied on Jan 27, 2014 @ 2:56 PM

Raptor fan : Drose was on a mission, no way we could've clinched that playoff spot. Either way it would have been a quick exit at the hands of Miami. But this year I can't help but feel t-Ross is the tmac to demars vince. I want to believe things are different now, but it's essentially the same. If we manage to screw it up again ( ie: not appreciating them so they want to leave) I don't know how long a basketball team will stay afloat in this hockey city

Replied on Jan 28, 2014 @ 9:20 AM

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