Thursday, September 1, 2011

The NBA's Top 5 Up-and-Coming Duos Countdown #5: DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis

The Toronto Raptors didn't have a very good decade in the 2000s, especially when it came to perimeter players.  They lost Tracy McGrady, traded Vince Carter, got torched in historic fashion by Kobe Bryant, and were beaten by Allen Iverson during the playoffs in their most tantalizing season of the decade.  The most haunting perimeter player-oriented debacle for the franchise: the center they drafted with their number one overall pick turned into a shooting guard, too.  Or at least, he rebounds like one- on a good day.

Yes Ed, the camera is on. 
But this decade should be different.  Guard DeMar DeRozan has all the makings of quality swingman, from size to athletic ability to work ethic.  While he doesn't have the potential of a T-Mac or VC, he's got a combination of traits that should allow him to become a 20 point, 6-7 rebound, 3 assist, 1.5 steal shooting guard/small forward who scores efficiently from 20 feet in and defends well.  Those are the numbers of a borderline all-star- something like prime Caron Butler or a better Josh Howard, but geared more toward SG.  He'll need to work on his ball-handling, shooting, and defense, but he's only 21, and the team needs somebody to produce. 

Ed Davis is DeRozan's fellow 21-year-old partner in this up-and-coming duo.  Davis is already one of the better defenders on the team- it doesn't say much considering Toronto was the worst defensive team in the league last year, but still- and gives them efficient frontcourt offense (7.7 ppg on 58.3 percent True Shooting in 24.6 minutes per game last year).  He rebounds on both ends and has shown himself to be a decent shot-blocker (1.5 blocks per-36 minutes last year).

DeRozan and Davis need better spacing from their teammates- Toronto was the worst 3-point shooting team in the league last year- especially DeRozan, whose games is based on slashing and scoring in the mid-range.  If they get that, it is more likely they will flourish offensively.  Together, D&D can put some D in the dinosaurs, too.

This duo alone won't get Toronto to any future NBA Finals, but they're a great starting point that will make the team relevant again. 

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