The Western Conference has made Derozan forgettable. It’s unfortunate really. In the Eastern Conference he was known by many as a top three shooting guard in the league. Switching conferences made him sort of average to the naked eye.
Prior to switching conferences, we saw DeRozan in three straight All Star Games in the Eastern Conference. He was consistently hitting clutch shots for the Raptors, was consistently in highlight reels, and was known as a dynamic scorer. The Raptors were a number one seed, and even went to the Eastern Conference Finals. Many people considered DeRozan to be a top ten player in the league. Is the Western Conference so far greater talent-wise than the Eastern Conference that a perennial all star can slip into the background in less than a year?
Yes. The San Antonio Spurs are the 8th seed in the Western Conference, with an all star big man in the front court in LaMarcus Aldridge. With one all star alongside DeRozan in the Eastern Conference, DeRozan had the Raptors consistently at the top of Eastern Conference. There’s a reason why the format for the All Star game has changed. The East was so weak talent wise, that we couldn’t bare to witness how that game would pan out.
It’s a shame really. DeRozan is not a bad player, and in my opinion I think he’ll end up in the hall of fame one day. DeRozan has career highs in rebounds and assists this season, while putting up a scoring average around his career average at 21.6 points per game. A player who was an all star a year ago is putting up career numbers in two major offensive categories, yet not even a little buzz.
It’s tough seeing who he’s being compared too. He was traded for Khawhi Leonard, who is doing swimmingly in Toronto. When you trade two star players for each other, it is only right to compare the two. Last time Leonard was healthy and played for the Spurs, they had over 60 wins, were the second seed, and were picked by many to go to the finals if not for Leonard’s injury in the playoffs against the Warriors. With DeRozan on the team, the Spurs won’t even get to 50 wins, they are hovering towards the bottom the playoff race as the current Western Conference 8th seed, and are expected by many to have a first round exit. Leonard also started in the All Star game, while DeRozan didn’t even make the team.
Leonard has beat him out in every way and category possible. The Raptors are currently the second seed in the East, and are being picked by many to go to the NBA Finals. People aren’t forgetting about DeRozan because of his play, as I said before that he is averaging around his career average in scoring, coupled with a career high in rebounding and assists. We’ve forgotten about him because of how good Leonard has played, how competitive the Western Conference is, and the standard at which the San Antonio Spurs are held too.
We are accustomed to seeing the Spurs as a consistent Western Conference Finals threat. When you trade a star for another star you aren’t expecting a drastic drop off, which there has been. This season really made people wonder was DeRozan really good all those years on the Raptors, or was he a product of a less talented conference.