It has only been nine games, but DeMar DeRozan has already exceeded most expectations in his limited time with the Spurs, and by extension has them exceeding expectations as well. After arriving in San Antonio with the reputation of an inefficient scorer, hesitant passer and unwilling defender, it has taken him no time at all to seamlessly fit right in to the Spurs system develop into one of the league’s premier offensive creators.
Despite missing three guards for the entire season so far (although that will change tonight with Derrick White’s return), the Spurs have fought their way to a 6-3 record, currently good for fourth in a Western conference that, at least for the moment, looks like it could have as many as 13 teams vying for 8 playoff spots. DeRozan has no doubt played the largest role in this early but promising accomplishment, so should he be in the early discussions of MVP candidates?
Some sites currently have him on the outside look in, while others already have him at least in the discussion, but Managing Editor of NBA.com — Global Editions, Micah Adams, decided to delve even deeper into why DeRozan belongs possibly even in the top 3 of early MVP ladders, and it’s one compelling argument.
First of all, there’s his stats — 27.3 points, 6.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, .519 FG% — and if they hold throughout the season they will put him in some truly elite company.
We always knew he could score. That he’s averaging 27.3 points per game - which would match his career high set from 2016-17 in which he exploded out of the gates by dropping 30 in 10 of his first 12 games - isn’t a shock.
That he’s doing it while averaging more assists per game than two-thirds of the league’s starting point guards and making over half of his shots, something which he’s never done?
Now that’s a stunner.
Just how rare is averaging 27 points and 6 assists per game on 50 percent shooting? It’s only been done 12 times in the history of the league by five different players.
Those five players are LeBron James (4x), Michael Jordan (3x), Larry Bird (3x), Steph Curry and Oscar Robertson. All five finished their respective seasons in the top 3 in MVP voting each time, and five times they won.
Beyond just the historical factor, there is also the evolution of his game and willingness to learn under Gregg Popovich despite already being a proven star in his tenth season in the NBA. Whether it’s the improved play-making abilities or defense, voters like a well-rounded player. Micah’s article is a fascinating read, so be sure to check out the entire thing.
Unless the Spurs make a quantum leap towards “could seriously knock the Warriors out” contender status, don’t expect to see DeRozan announced as the league MVP at next summer’s NBA Awards ceremony. Asking him to convince enough of the media to vote for him over more glitzy candidates like Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and even that guy up in Toronto whom he was traded for is a tall task.
However, if he finishes the season with similar numbers while leading the Spurs — whom many expect(ed) to miss the playoffs — to a top-four seed, then he should at least get the honor and recognition of being on the ballot and an invite to sit at the “MVP table” in late June (not sure that’s a thing, but you get the point).