When it comes to compelling and even dramatic storylines, DeMar DeRozan is a pretty boring dude. (Unless, of course, he’s subtweeting the hell out of Sports Illustrated.) He signed a max deal with the Toronto Raptors because he believes in what they’re building, so we can’t talk about him getting revenge on his former team or beefing with a star-teammate-turned-stylish-foe. Fortunately, though, he’s really, really, really good at playing basketball, so leading the league in scoring with 34.1 points per game makes up for the lack of First Take talking points.
However, that’s not to say that DeRozan isn’t secretly a diabolical genius.
As Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh once showed us, humiliating the rest of the world on the court isn’t the only thing that happens when Team USA Basketball is assembled. Just as those guys used their time in Beijing to plan the “Big 3,” DeRozan used Brazil as a chance to figure out what the Raptors needed to do to improve upon their 56-win season. More importantly, for both DeRozan and his team, he observed his star teammates and absorbed their super powers like that one bad guy on Heroes.
He studied the work ethic of Kevin Durant, absorbed the confidence of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and took note of how hard Kyrie Irving works at getting better at finishing at the rim. He learned leadership, something he says he and Lowry strive to be better at every day.
“We are always trying to be better leaders,” DeRozan said. “We’re a better team because of last season. We were tested at the highest level. We fought through two Game 7s. We went to a Game 6 in the conference finals. Nothing came easy. To go through something like that, it builds you. We have a better understanding of what it takes to win.” (Via The Vertical)
Let’s just hope for the rest of the Raptors’ sake that DeRozan didn’t also leave Brazil with Dwight Howard’s unparalleled flatulence.