Trend Analysis: DeRozan’s January Slump

DeMar DeRozan has not played well to start the new year, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.

The year of course started on an epic high note for DeRozan, who notched the first triple double of his NBA career in a revenge game against the Raptors. He put up 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a 125-107 win. The AT&T Center was revved up for Kawhi Leonard’s return, and the building was as loud as it had ever been.

The crowd has been quieter since, and so has DeRozan. He started the season as the team’s most valuable player as LaMarcus Aldridge struggled, but the roles have switched this month. DeRozan is averaging just 15 points per game in January on 39% shooting.

Obviously, the mid-range shooting has been an issue of late. DeRozan is famous for taking and making tough jumpers off the bounce and out of the post. Over this past month, most of those tough shots have fallen short.

The defense is pretty tight on most of these plays, but he’s falling short even when he has pretty clean looks near the rim.

DeRozan is having a tough time against some solid defenders, but he isn’t making it easier for himself by settling for jumpers where he doesn’t create much space. It’s considered a bad shot by modern NBA standards, though usually DeRozan hits them. He isn’t hitting right now though, but he keeps chucking early in the shot clock with a hand in his face.

Taking a long jumper early in the clock makes no effort to break the defense down by attacking the rim. Settling for outside jumpers makes things easier for opponents and more stagnant for teammates. He’s shooting 29% from outside of ten feet this month, and when shots are not falling shot selection needs to improve.

Sometimes the game situation dictates that DeRozan taking a contested jumper is the best possible option, but late clock attempts allow the defender to get right up in his face at the buzzer.

Most of the jumpers in this stretch have come up short, which could be attributed to tired legs. He’s played 35 minutes per game this year, his most since 2013-14. A few of the long misses came in the most recent contest against the Clippers. It was almost like DeRozan told himself he needed to stop missing short, even if it meant overshooting a few.

DeRozan likes attacking defenders who are close to him. He’s phenomenal at drawing contact on jumpers and drives to the rim, but he hasn’t been getting the calls recently. He’s shooting 3.7 free throws a game in this cold stretch, down from 6.2 in December. On some plays, he has a legitimate gripe with officials.

DeRozan is very good at doing things that should be called fouls in today’s NBA, and the officials get it right more often than not.

On some plays, it seems DeRozan is more concerned about drawing contact than he is about finishing the shot. If he goes into a move anticipating a foul, it looks pretty bad when the whistle doesn’t come. Defenses have done very well bother his shots closely without fouling

This move usually gets DeRozan to the rim or to the line, but the Thunder had it scouted perfectly.

DeRozan is turning the ball over 4 times a game in January, double his number from December. As Paul Garcia of Project Spurs noted, he’s mainly turning it over by dribbling the ball off of himself and making bad passes. When you put the ball on the floor and throw it around, these things happen.

Some of the really bad passes come not when DeRozan is on the move, but when stands still and stares down his intended target. When those passes cross the court, they very often lead to transition opportunities for the bad guys.

The recent struggles seem to be impacting DeRozan’s confidence. He’s shooting just 72% from the stripe this month, and some of his misses from the floor are unexplainable.

DeRozan is in a funk, but it’s not the end of the world. He’s still doing a lot of things at a very high level, and with a few adjustments he can get some easier looks and be more effective to help bust this slump. That will be the focus of Part 2 tomorrow.

  
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