Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan evolving both on and off the court

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: DeMar DeRozan /

It has been an impressive season for DeMar DeRozan as he has evolved his game for the Toronto Raptors, while making his impact off the court with the NBA.

He may not be the favourite to win the MVP this season but for the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan has been that and much more.

He may be averaging fewer minutes and points per game, but his impact has been noticeable in other areas. The 28-year-old is averaging a career-high 5.2 assists per game and his second highest three-point shooting percentage. All this while attempting more shots from beyond the arc than ever before.

When things have been getting tough for his team, the Compton-native has usually been the one to carry them on his back and lead them to victory.

If there ever was a phrase that personifies the commitment DeRozan has shown this city, look no further than to a tweet from almost eight years ago:

For years that message has been referenced but now more than ever, DeRozan is letting his actions speak louder than his words. The Raptors’ previous victory over the Detroit Pistons was a prime example of the way DeRozan has evolved his game, summed up specifically by two plays.

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The play that led to overtime was a great example of DeRozan recognizing the situation and putting himself in a position to score. In past years, he might have tried to step back and take a mid-range jumper.

It gets even better in overtime when DeRozan was in a position to take the game-winning shot, but recognizes the pressure from the Pistons’ defenders. So instead of trying to take an impossible shot he decides to pass it off to Fred VanVleet, who makes no mistake.

No player on the Raptors has taken their game to the next level like the nine-year veteran and recently his contributions off the court have been getting many positive reviews as well.

His openness has allowed other NBA players like Kevin Love and Kelly Oubre to shared their personal struggles, with both crediting the Raptors’ shooting guard for giving them the courage to do it.

While the MVP honour might be a tough sell for DeRozan, he definitely deserves credit for the way he has turned his game around and show others they can open up about their struggles.

Next: Which teams threaten the Raptors' championship hopes?

What do you think about DeRozan’s MVP candidacy? Has he impressed you this season? Let us know in the comments below.