San Antonio Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan says becoming a better defender is the next step he needs to take in his career, and he plans on doing that this season.
Speaking to reporters after practice Thursday, DeRozan said he wants people to see he’s become a better defender without him saying anything, implying he’s going to let his game do the talking for him.
“That’s always been the next transition in my career,” DeRozan said. “Let that be a thing that’s seen. Every part of my game that’s been seen, I didn’t even have to talk about. So, that’s the next step in my game that I want to be talked about without me saying anything.”
DeMar DeRozan is a gifted offensive player. He averaged 23.0 points per game in 2017-18 and shot 45.6 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from beyond the arc, helping the Toronto Raptors secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. At 6-foot-7, DeRozan should be one of the better defenders in the league. However, at times it appears he’s coasting on defense in an effort to save his energy for offense.
That tactic won’t work in San Antonio, as Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is a demanding coach and isn’t afraid to call out and even bench players for not giving effort on the defensive end.
By most advanced metrics, DeRozan was one of the worst defenders in the league last season, which sometimes forced the Raptors to hide the swingman on defense. The Spurs won’t be able to do that this year. Every night in the Western Conference, DeRozan is going to be matched up against elite small forwards and he’s going to have to hold his own.