Toronto Raptors: Is DeMar DeRozan Now a Top 10 Player?

Sep 26, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (7) pose for pictures on media day at BioSteel Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (7) pose for pictures on media day at BioSteel Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors have the best offense per 100 possessions in NBA history, thanks to DeMar DeRozan‘s player efficiency rating of 25.7.

There is no doubt now that the start to DeMar DeRozan’s 2016-17 NBA season is not a fluke, after the first quarter of the season. However, now that he is clearly ranked higher than what SI had him to start the season at 46th, the question is if he is now a top 10 NBA player? And if so, will he end the season in the top 10?

Let’s begin by stating the obvious –  he is the best player on a team ranked second in the Eastern Conference. At the moment they are just half a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Although there could be better players on worse teams, the game is ultimately about winning championships. So when there is a close debate statistically, the edge always goes to the player on the better team. The intangibles that can’t be captured with statistics, such as being a strong leader, are usually the difference between winning and losing in a game of small margins.

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A bunch of DeRozan’s stats are career bests, including his scoring production. He is currently ranked fourth in the NBA, with 28 points per game.

Not only that, DeRozan ranks ninth in field goal percentage among NBA guards who shoot over five attempts per game. At 47.9 percent that’s a career best, but what’s even more impressive is his field goal percentage from two-point range, at 49.6 percent.

Demar’s three-point accuracy is below average, but he attempts from long-range less than twice a game. This is acceptable in order for him to bring variance and unpredictability to his game, which makes him more effective inside. I wouldn’t mind him taking one step in from the three-point line most of the time though.

Then we look at the California native’s free throw attempts and average, perhaps his strongest asset. Last season he went to the line 8.4 times per game. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he gets there 9.2 times per game this year, which puts him in sixth place in the NBA in attempts.

DeRozan also makes the fifth-most free throws at 85.3 percent efficiency. That conversion rate is better than all but one player who appears at the free throw line more than him (Jimmy Butler).

Other career bests for the 27-year old are his current steals and rebounds per game, including defensive boards. He’s averaging 4.2 defensive rebounds, while grabbing 1.2 steals per game. While this isn’t a huge uptick from previous years, it’s definitely notable and demonstrates his maturity on the defensive end.

DeMar DeRozan
Dec 8, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) controls the ball as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) defends during the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Raptors won 124-110. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

CBS recently noted that the Raptors have the best offense in NBA history, by highlighting their record holding points per 100 possessions. This can largely be attributed to DeRozan’s ability to score efficiently and get to the free throw line often.

Proof of that can be summed up with his PER. Number 10’s player efficiency rating is a whopping 25.7. This ranks 11th in the NBA, ahead of Steph Curry.

I personally never believed DeRozan would be as good as he is today. I always believed he was an amazing talent that had demonstrated positive growth season after season, but I felt the Raptors needed a true number one star to win it all, with the leading scorer providing more value as the main support player.

Well, I was wrong – DeRozan is a true NBA superstar, a real number one. I do believe the Raptors could still add a piece down the middle to truly cause havoc to the Cavaliers but DD was on a mission to ‘prove ‘em wrong’ and he’s done exactly that. Whether you agree he is in the top 10 or not, he’s certainly right there in the mix.

Next: Raptors' Quarterly Awards for the 2016 Season

Let us know what you think in the comments section below, about DeRozan’s performance this season. Is he a top 10  player at this point? Will he be one by the end of the season?