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DeRozan Shows A Willingness To Learn

Sure, the fact DeMar DeRozan can jump out of the gym is a plus.

He also fills a team need by being a gritty wing defender.

But what really caught the Raptors attention during pre-draft workouts was his willingness to check his ego at the door and soak up the advice the coaching staff offered to him during private workouts.

“During workouts we saw a couple of things so we made some suggestions and he cleaned those things up right away,” Triano boasted to the media Thursday evening. “He showed us he is willing to learn.”

No matter how talented a rookie is they will make countless mistakes during their first season in the NBA.

They’ll blow an assignment on the defensive end.

There will be games where they’ll commit costly turnovers that will leave their teammates shaking their heads in frustration.

You can count on a stretch of games late in the season where they will hit the proverbial rookie wall and run out of gas.

But learning, growing and soaking up knowledge from your new coaches and teammates is an integral part of any success – or lack thereof – any rookie will have. You need to throw young players into the fire and allow them to learn from these kinds of mistakes in order to see true growth.

This hasn’t been the case in Toronto the past few seasons because Sam Mitchell would yank young players out of games whenever they would make a mistake. This resulted in players looking over their shoulder and playing tentative which in turn stunted their growth and confidence.

Luckily for DeRozan, his new coach doesn’t agree with that style of coaching and is going to allow his star rookie ample opportunity to learn from his mistakes.

“I think he’s got that potential (to be be in the rotation next season) and I don’t think he’ll find that potential by sitting on the bench or playing restricted minutes,” Triano explained to the media. “I think we’ll have to find ways to get him minutes. Whether that means starting him early and play the first part of the first and third quarter or coming off the bench in relief for somebody, there’s going to be a certain amount of minutes on a consistent we’re going to try to find him because we’re going to have to find ways to make him better.”

As much as the coaching staff and front office are enamored with DeRozan’s potential, there has to be an understanding from fans that he was drafted because of the type of player he might develop into. At this state of his development there are a lot of positives, but his skills need further development and there a lot of areas he’ll need to improve on his game which will be accomplished by spending a lot of time in the gym.

But this responsibility won’t rely solely on DeRozan as the Raptors coaching staff will constantly be prodding him along.

“He’s got a chance to be special,” Bryan Colangelo told the media shortly after he selected DeRozan. “Now it’s about us putting him an environment where he can succeed. It’s about the coaches working with him, motivating him and pushing him to be the best possible player he can be.”

While DeRozan may be the most athletically gifted player in the draft, what will separate him from his peers is how much work he’s willing to put into his game. Despite being guaranteed minutes next season, it ultimately rests on him to step up and make sure he’s putting in the work needed to ensure he’s developing into the star many envision him to become.

Based on what I heard on draft night from the Raptors brain trust it doesn’t sound like this will be a problem.

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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