clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

DeMar DeRozan is a big outlier in a predictable NBA season

Even after 10 games, the NBA standings seem familiar. But there are some exceptions to the rule.

NBA: New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season is just about 10 games old, so Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller checked in on the state of the league, some trends that may or may not be sustainable, and early trade rumors.

FLANNERY: I don't know who decided this, but there is some kind of conventional wisdom out there that we can start to make real judgments about the NBA after 10 games. I'm looking at the standings on a Monday morning and we're basically right there.

We are already starting to see some trends emerge. The Hawks and Hornets are better than we thought in the East. The Celtics and Pistons might be a little bit worse. The West is the West. It's eerie how it's lining up almost exactly as we saw it this summer. (The Lakers being decent being the big exception.)

I still think we're headed toward Cavs-Warriors III and I don't feel like wasting too much time dissecting their early seasons again, so what stands out to you so far?

ZILLER: A few teams have surprised in ways good and bad -- the Lakers are No. 1 with a bullet -- but I am struck by how otherwise normal the standings look. I didn't expect the Thunder to be that high or the Celtics to be that low. I wasn't convinced the Mavericks would fall off the map (and I think they'll be back in the thick of it before long). But overall, minus the Lakers, I could absolutely see the final standings looking something like this in April. It feels like it's been a weird season, but maybe that's more at the individual level.

Speaking of which, DeMar DeRozan is having the most inexplicable start to a season for a player I have ever seen. He's shooting better than 50 percent on 24 attempts per game, plus drawing fouls at a LeBronian rate. He was really good last season, and averaged a career-high 23.5 points per game. He's at 34 a night this year, and he's hit the 30-point mark in eight of nine games. It's not believable.

But as he inches closer to December, it needs to be reckoned with. This isn't a hot week. This isn't just a hot month. It's one of the hottest months anyone has had in years. This is Curryesque, but without the threes, which somehow makes it more impressive.

FLANNERY: Right, we all expected chalk and chalk we pretty much have at this point. Plus, there's a lot of chalk. The middle of the pack is vast.

DeRozan is one of my favorite players because he's A) a really nice guy and B) he makes everyone so damn mad with his style of play. It's like they take it personally when he pulls up from mid-range. How dare he!

So, this becomes a question of sustainability. He can't keep this up because no one can keep it up, but at what point does this go from hot streak to sustained reality: 15 games, 20, the All-Star break?

ZILLER: There are different factors at play in his epic start, and I think they'll prove to be varying levels of sustainable. Shooting 70 percent on mid-range jumpers is not sustainable -- but maybe 50 percent on the quality of shots he's getting will work out. His foul drawing seems sustainable, and given the interesting rotation Dwane Casey has going (Bebe! Pascal!), he should be able to keep taking 20 shots a night if we wants to do so. You know Kyle Lowry is rooting him on.

The thing that gets me about DeRozan is that he's just amped up everything that made him good. Now it's making him great. He's got some Dwyane Wade in there, and that's super exciting.

Any other players you're trying to assess in terms of sustainability?

FLANNERY: DeMar is the most obvious outlier here. He's such an outlier he makes everyone else look fairly normal. You can rationalize James Harden averaging 30 and 13 and I'd say that's even money to continue, or even Harrison Barnes averaging over 22 a game because, why not? Somebody's got to score. I'd guess that Andrew Wiggins won't continue to lead the league in three-point shooting, or that Lou Williams won't put up a 25.4 PER for the rest of the season. But we know all that.

What's interesting to me is when a generation of players begin their ascent and this feels like a movement: Dame Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, GIannis, AD, KAT. These guys are moving up in the world, either from All-Star to STAR levels, or from intriguing to realized potential. We're always talking about transition years, but this feels like we're in the middle of a sizable shift in terms of how we evaluate the next generation of players.

ZILLER: It is, and it's something we've discussed leading up to the season. It's happening! Yet there's really not that sort of changing of the guard at the team level. That will happen later.

I'm going to force you into a conversation you'll probably hate. Who needs to make a trade, or alternately, who needs to be traded for the good of them and us all?

FLANNERY: Yeah, I hate this conversation. But I also understand it's what makes the NBA world go round so fine, I'll play along. Let's assume that Anthony Davis is off the table because that's everyone default answer and the Pelicans would be mad to even consider the idea. Boogie Cousins is always the other answer to this question because come on; if any franchise/player situation needed a reboot it's that one.

So, deep dramatic breath here, I think Paul George needs a new home and I think the Pacers should examine the possibility. I don't know where they're going and they'll probably get better as the season goes along, but to what end? PG has two years left after this one on his deal so his value will never be higher. I know all the reasons why a team in Indiana's position should never do this, and I usually agree with them, but ... they could probably have every asset from every team that has them. You'd have to think about it, right?

ZILLER: Oh Flanns, you're blatantly trying to get Paul George to Boston so you can watch him and talk to him after every Celtics home game. Shame!

I'm actually not convinced there's an imperative to consider moving him now. As opposed to Boogie and even John Wall, PG-13 has had success in Indiana. There's like nothing to keep Cousins and Wall in Sacramento and D.C. respectively when their contracts are up.

The Magic badly need a trade or two, as do the Kings. These rosters are just too big-heavy and guard-deficient. While Boston is dealing with injury and while Danny Ainge is never hasty, you wonder if Boston is going to be more active than usual over the next three months.

That's right, only three months until the trade deadline. The future waits on no one!

FLANNERY: Hey, I root for my interests first and the story second. And you drew me into this conversation, so let me turn the tables here. Are you ready to move on from the Boogie era? Really, really ready?

ZILLER: For the good of Boogie and for the good of the Kings, yes. Both parties need a fresh start.

FLANNERY: #FreeBoogie #ForAmerica