The early MVP chatter has (mostly) centered around the usual suspects: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
But what most fans and pundits alike are ignoring is happening north of the border. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan is having a start to the season not seen since MJ. That’s right, Michael freaking Jordan.
DeRozan is sitting pretty at 34.1 PPG, the first player since Jordan in 1989 to put average at least 34 points in their team’s first seven games.
Now the big question: can he sustain this??
We first have to look at his tendencies from previous seasons, and the most obvious one is (lack of) the 3-point shot.
In a league that has rapidly grown to embrace the long ball, DeRozan is built differently. Last season, DeRozan attempted less than two 3’s per game, compared to his 16 (!) 2-point attempts per.
And this season is no different. Believe it or not, despite the over 10-point uptick in PPG, the aforementioned trends have become even more extreme.
The Compton native has attempted even less 3’s this season, and is knocking them down at an alarmingly worse clip (34% down to 17%). He’s even putting up seven more two-point shots than a year ago.
So the two-point to three-point split is in line with last year. But everything else isn’t.
DeRozan shot a respectable, albeit unimpressive 44% from the field last season, a three percentage point improvement from the season prior. But this season that percentage has shot up an unprecedented nine more points to an unsustainable (at least for him) 53%.
He may see another significant improvement in his efficiency, but that percentage will likely settle at around 46-47%, which will put a dent in his scoring numbers.
Speaking of efficiency, DeMar is fresh off his most efficient season ever, according to his 21.5 PER. But this season has seen another unsustainable spike. His 31.2 PER this season is good for 5th in the association, but, like his shooting percentage, is more than likely to crash back down to earth.
It’s very possible, even likely, that DeMar DeRozan is in for a career-defining season. But his current, MJ-esque pace, is just as likely to straighten itself out.
FINAL STATLINE PREDICTION (CAREER RANK)
PPG: 25.1 (1st)
SHOOTING%: 46.7% (2nd)
PER: 24 (1st)
APG: 3.8 (2nd)
RPG: 4.9 (1st)