The Los Angeles Lakers have been in headlines lately for their rumored interest in Chris Paul and Derrick Rose for some time now. But now, there is a new target the Lakers are reportedly pursuing. Enter DeMar DeRozan!
I am sure the lasting memory all of us have about DeMar DeRozan is LeBron repeatedly sending the DeRozan-led Toronto Raptors home from the playoffs for the entirety of LeBron’s second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
People seem to have forgotten that DeMar DeRozan is even in the NBA, which tends to happen when you get traded to the less relevant San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. DeRozan can certainly still play in the NBA at a high level though, as he is arguably a fringe All-Star caliber player still.
Over the last two seasons with the Spurs, DeRozan has averaged approximately 22 points per game, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and just over 1 steal with only 2.5 turnovers while averaging about 35 minutes per game. DeRozan has accomplished these numbers shooting just over 50% from the field, 84% from the free-throw line, but an abysmal 20% from the three-point line.
These numbers line up surprisingly better than his career averages in Toronto but still are not better than the 3 seasons prior to DeRozan’s arrival in San Antonio. Just to provide some clarity, DeRozan was a 4-time All-Star with the Raptors, including his last 3 seasons there (4 of his last five in Toronto). In those seasons, DeRozan averaged 23 points, 27 points, and 23 points per game respectively.
However, DeRozan’s efficiency has increased while playing slightly more minutes, shooting a few more shots per game, and getting to the free-throw line less. The only regression that has somehow gotten even worse for DeRozan is his three-point shooting.
He did improve from his first season in San Antonio (16%) to last season (20%). The difference is that DeRozan is barely ever attempting the shots now, similar to Giannis in previous seasons or Russell Westbrook after “Moreyball” went into effect.
DeRozan is following up a career-best season in terms of efficiency, with no season coming close to his field goal percentage (53%) while keeping a steady free-throw percentage (84%).
You may be wondering exactly how a trade sending him to the Lakers is a win-win, and below I will give my analysis of the situation.
For the Lakers, this trade appears to make a lot of sense. The rumored pieces being moved would be Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green, with salaries close enough to matching DeRozan’s to make the deal work. DeRozan actually has a player option that he will reportedly decline, which would enable him to then proceed in a sign-and-trade to the Lakers.
Another potential situation would be for DeRozan to opt into his option, then be traded at a later date. This is unlikely because he has expressed his concerns with San Antonio, and wants to play elsewhere next season. By acquiring DeRozan, the Lakers would gain a wing better than Danny Green, who would be a consistent third option offensively.
DeRozan also would continue to get opportunities to have the ball in his hands, considering Frank Vogel does like to stagger LeBron and Anthony Davis’ minutes at times throughout the game.
The Lakers formula this past season was to play through their star power, and they won a championship because of it. This move would only add to that star power while adding another dimension to their sometimes stagnant offense.
The biggest concern with this move is definitely the lack of three-point shooting that DeRozan provides, as well as DeRozan’s overall defense (in comparison to Danny Green).
For the Spurs, getting rid of DeRozan clears all his minutes for their plethora of young wings, such as Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, and Keldon Johnson. Also, the Spurs could potentially add another wing in the draft, since they own a lottery pick.
Acquiring Kyle Kuzma would allow the Spurs to have an even younger core, with the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge. However, Aldridge is also rumored to have interest from the Golden State Warriors for their second overall pick in this year’s draft.
The Spurs have the potential to hit the rebuild button this offseason, and they should strongly consider it. A change of scenario for Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green may also be best for all parties involved. In fact, Green’s best seasons were with the Spurs in the first half of the 2010s, when he had big-time performances in several NBA Finals against the Big 3 in Miami.
The Spurs’ youth proved ready and capable of competing when they almost snuck them into the play-in game(s) for the playoffs in the NBA Bubble.
It’s finally time to hand the keys over and accelerate their development through opportunity and Gregg Popovich’s coaching. Overall, this trade sets the Spurs up for the future, rather than keeping DeRozan, and even LaMarcus Aldridge.
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