There have been lots of names thrown around in NBA free agency this summer. Most of the basketball audience is interested to see what the Los Angeles Lakers do after their disappointing first round exit and the teams are now piling up superstars. In my mind, Demar Derozan is the guy that elevates the Lakers for a few reasons.
1. LeBron trusts him– Russell Westbrook’s name has been mentioned in joining the Lakers over the last couple of months. I don’t know if LeBron trusts Westbrook in the big moments to make clutch decisions. Westbrook is a great player with lots of heart, but I fear he will always be remembered as a great individual player and not one that takes a team to the next level. Derozan is a smart offense player that can play on or off the ball. LeBron can rely on him to make smart decisions and create his own offense with or without the ball.
2. Derozan is a shot creator– The list of guys who can do this in the NBA is very small, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant just to name a few. Derozan is also one of them. The mid-range game in the NBA is a lost art with the way three point shooting has increased. Derozan can hit the mid-range, he’s a great slasher and draws contact to get some extra points at the line. His three point shooting is in question, but the good outweighs the bad in his offensive package almost averaging 22 points a game last season.
3. Leading the second unit– Derozan was the clear first option in Toronto and spending time in San Antonio with a young roster having to be the veteran, has prepped Derozan for this moment. The Lakers run so many different lineups, Derozan could fit in any of them. Also with Anthony Davis and his health struggles, it would be good to have Derozan who is usually healthy and reliable in the game when LeBron takes a breather.His role seems like it would be similar to how James Harden’s role was this season when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would go out due to substitutions or injuries. Having combinations such as LeBron, Derozan and Davis or at least two of them on the floor makes the Lakers tough to matchup with.
4. Playing in his hometown– Any of us that have played sports know it’s always good to play in your hometown. The feeling is different, in a good way. Derozan played college basketball at USC, was drafted by the Raptors and then went to the Spurs. I think if Derozan got a taste of putting on that historic purple and gold of his hometown it would give him new life and he would have a different drive to win a championship for his hometown.