The Toronto Raptors made the boldest play of the trading season, picking up Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies. Many figured that would make the men from the Great White North instant contenders to get into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. It isn’t going to happen in all likelihood after a four-game losing streak to end February/start March, but this is still a team that many won’t want to mess with down the stretch.
DeMar DeRozan has quietly become a huge success for the Raptors. He is having the best season of his four-year career, averaging 17.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Many figured that when Gay came to take, DeRozan would fall off of the map, but that just hasn’t been the case.
Over the course of the last nine games, DeRozan has continued his push as one of the most underrated scorers in the NBA. He has averaged 19.7 points per game since February 12th, putting him on one of the better runs for players in the Eastern Conference since that point.
Unfortunately for Toronto, it hasn’t been the best team to make NBA picks on down the stretch. The team has failed to cover four in a row, and DeRozan is seemingly doing better in games in which the team isn’t covering than when it is. The Southern Cal native has averaged 19.2 points per game over the course of the last six that the Raptors haven’t covered. He is only averaging 17.3 points per game in the last four in which they have beaten the spread.
DeRozan is setting a career-high for scoring (17.8 PPG), rebounding (4.1 RPG), assists (2.5 APG), steals (1.0 SPG), and free throw shooting percentage (83.1%) this season, and if he can carry this into next season with Gay, the Raptors might ultimately become one of the scarier teams in the East.