Is DeMar DeRozan Really a Free Agency Win for the Raptors?
When you're coming off the best season in your franchise's history and one of your two All-Star caliber players is a free agent, you're probably best off to give him a new contract.
That looks to be the case for the Toronto Raptors, who just made the Eastern Conference Finals, and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.
So according to that last tweet from my pal @MarcJSpears, your most current estimate on the DeMar DeRozan deal is five years, $145 million.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2016
It's hard to knock the connection from a personal level. DeRozan showed no interest in meeting with other teams, and he helped them to the brink of the NBA Finals.
With the dust settling and a few million to be sorted out (what a phrase), does this deal make sense for Toronto?
A New Economy
One major, major, major problem with examining contracts from this year's free agency period is that there is going to be a 30-percent hike in the league's salary cap, from $70 million to roughly $94 million.
For some context -- and we'll stick to the low-end $139 million estimate -- DeRozan's average annual value (AAV) is now $27.8 million, which places him behind just Damian Lillard in the grand scheme of contracts by this measurement. Naturally, that's going to ebb and flow as new deals roll in, but that's a large chunk of dough.
DeRozan's AAV is roughly 29.6% of the new salary cap (if we consider it $94 million). At the old level -- $70 million -- he'd account for about $20.7 million, on par with players such as LaMarcus Aldridge ($21 million) and Paul Millsap ($20.1).
However, the shooting guard with the highest AAV right now is Jimmy Butler ($18.5 million), so DeRozan is, effectively, he highest-paid shooting guard even when trying to adjust a bit for the old contracts.
Is he that good?
Among 99 guards with at least 4,000 minutes during the past three seasons, DeRozan ranks 10th in Win Shares (22.7). He drops to 15th in Win Shares per 48 minutes (0.137) and is 12th in PER.
Not bad by any means.
He's 94th in three-point attempt rate (just 11.6% of his field goal attempts have been from beyond the arc), but he makes up for that by ranking 5th in free throw attempts per field goal attempt (.455).
Problematically, this doesn't necessarily lead to the most efficient approach to being win-producing player. His 28.8% usage rate ranked him fifth in the group of 99 guards. However, his 44.9% effective field goal percentage ranked him 93rd.
He's a volume player, and his inability to hit long-range shots (his 31.1% from deep ranked 85th in this group) only exacerbates his issues. He did, though, rank 13th-best with a turnover rate of just 9.7%, so he's not turnover prone, but he also ranked just 55th in assist rate (19.0) in this group.
Of course, he's a shooting guard -- not a point guard -- but it's hard to make the case that he's an efficient player deserving of an elite usage rate.
But in 2015-16, he did jump his personal Win Shares per 48 minutes to .169 this year, a career-best, and his 46.3% effective field goal percentage was his best since his sophomore season in 2010-11. By no means is it unreasonable to place him in the conversation of the NBA's best shooting guards.
Rather, he just isn't as sure a bet as some of his elite peers are, yet he has a contract that puts him ahead of the class -- for now.
A Fine Deal
Is DeRozan the best shooting guard in the NBA? No, he's not. He's he one of the few guys who can really make a difference at the position? Yes.
His 8.2 nERD, which indicates how many wins above .500 a player would make an average team over a full season, ranked 17th in the NBA and 3rd among shooting guards (behind James Harden's 13.2 and Jimmy Butler's 8.6).
When the rest of the shooting guard class gets new deals in this unchartered NBA economy, DeRozan's contract is going to look just fine.
And for the Raptors, a team without a rich history of luring in lucrative free agents, it will likely look even better.