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NBA Free Agency 2021: DeMar DeRozan would upgrade the Mavericks roster, despite the odd fit

DeRozan would be a talent upgrade, but would his lack of shooting matter?

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Despite taking the Los Angeles Clippers to seven games in the first round, the Dallas Mavericks have a quite a few holes to plug in their lineup. One of the most important deficiencies to address is the lack of a secondary playmaker next to Luka Doncic. Too often the Mavericks’ offense sputtered if the ball wasn’t in Doncic’s hands.

Enter DeMar DeRozan. The veteran shooting guard possesses plenty of skills the Mavericks need. So there should be no doubts about his fit in Dallas, right?

The Basics

The 6’6 220-pound DeRozan just completed his third year with the San Antonio Spurs. He’s at the end of a five-year, $139 million contract he signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2016. DeRozan was shipped to the Spurs in 2018 as part of the trade that brought Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors.

DeRozan put up per game averages of 21.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in 61 games this season. He’s been the primary option for the Spurs since he arrived in San Antonio.


Simply put, DeRozan is a scorer. One might even say he’s a bucket. He averaged almost 22 points per game last season while only taking around 15 shots per contest. He also averaged seven free throw attempts per game, making them at an 88% clip. This scoring comes on the heels of DeRozan taking a step back and letting the Spurs’ young guards run the show from time to time. At his peak in Toronto, DeRozan was capable of averaging 27 per game on 20 attempts easily. If there’s one thing he can do, it’s score.

DeRozan is most effective as an isolation scorer. He shoots almost 53% from the floor on two or more dribbles, showing his ability to create his own shot. DeRozan scored 1.20 points per possession on isolation plays, the highest in the league among players that averaged at least three isolations per game last season. This puts him slightly ahead of second place Kevin Durant, who averaged 1.18 PPP on 3.3 isolations per game.

The point is, scoring is DeRozan’s biggest strength. But he can also get others involved, as evidenced by averaging almost seven assists per game last season, a career high. That’s something he’s added to his game since arriving in San Antonio.


For such a great scorer, DeRozan is lacking in 3-point shooting. It’s not that he’s a bad shooter. It’s that he doesn’t shoot 3-pointers at all. He shot 25% from behind the arc last season on 1.2 attempts per game. That’s actually double his attempts from the previous season. DeRozan just isn’t interested in shooting 3-pointers. He’s never been great from behind the arc, shooting only 28% for his career. Whether he’s struggled from deep because he’s reluctant to shoot or vice versa, who knows, but he won’t stretch the floor, that’s for sure.

DeRozan isn’t known for his defense, either. He’s not particularly bad, but he’s not locking down an opponents’ top scorer. That’s particularly problematic at his position, where he’s often tasked with guarding elite perimeter players across the league.

Fit with the Mavericks

How DeRozan fits with Doncic is the main concern when considering acquiring him. His lack of 3-point shooting would certainly create spacing issues for Doncic’s drives to the basket, which are an essential part of the Mavericks’ offense.

Could DeRozan adjust his game and shoot more 3-pointers? He made it a point of emphasis in 2017-18 with Toronto, ramping up his attempts from deep to 3.6 per game and converted 31% of them, both career highs. But the next year his 3-point attempts fell off a cliff, plummeting to 0.6 per game. Would DeRozan be willing to let it fly from behind the arc again?

There’s also the fact that DeRozan could be less effective without the ball, though the last three years in San Antonio should alleviate those concerns. He’s shown he can be an efficient scorer without dominating possessions. If he can shoot enough to keep defenses honest and out of the lane, DeRozan would be a great upgrade to a Mavericks roster in desperate need of a talent infusion.

He’s certain to be a pricy addition, though. A former All Star who can still operate as a primary scorer when needed, DeRozan would help several teams. In an offseason short on high end free agents, he’s probably going to cash in if he wants. But it’s possible DeRozan could be willing to take a discount to play with a team he believes gives him a chance to win a championship. As it stands right now, though, the Mavericks don’t exactly fit that scenario.