Although it is DeMar DeRozan’s offensive game that is usually picked over, defence has been a bigger issue with the shooting guard’s development. Too often, he falls asleep off of the ball or goes under a screen, to the team’s detriment.
The same could be said for Terrence Ross, who failed to translate his natural athleticism into consistently coherent defence. Rudy Gay has never been known for his defensive chops, either. So, when Raptors coach Dwane Casey built up DeRozan’s defensive growth — the usual pre-season caveats apply — it was worthy of taking note.
“His defence has been a surprise,” Casey said of DeRozan. “His defence has been a surprise with the way he’s stepped up, been in the right place, his stunts, his slides. His close-outs have been sharp.”
Again, it is either speculation or spin until the season starts. But, it is an interesting phenomenon. Generally, it is assumed that if a swingman is athletic and works hard, he will become a good defender. DeRozan, undeniably, is both. Yet, the Raptors are still waiting for him to become reliable on the other end entering his fifth season.
Everyone has a theory about why this is, and Casey has a theory about why he believes he will see a more effective DeRozan on that end.
“Maturity. Experience. Young guys who are talented never had to play defence in college because, and rightfully so, coaches don’t want them to get in foul trouble. They need them on the court,” Casey said. “At this level … every night you’re looking at another gun, a hired gun coming into town that can play. Every night — especially at that position, at the [swingman] position. You’ve got to pick it up. That process is something each of those guys has to go through. LeBron went through it. Kobe went through it. All of them had to learn, ‘If I want to stay on the court, I’ve got to learn how to defend.’ Either you do or you don’t.”