NEW YORK — There was no worse 3-point shooter in the league last season than DeMar DeRozan. Of the 200 players who attempted at least 50 threes, DeRozan shot them at, by far, the worst percentage. In fact, nobody in NBA history has shot threes worse than DeRozan did last season.
Lowest season 3-point percentage, minimum 50 attempts, NBA history
But DeRozan put in his work in the extended postseason, and through five games, he’s already hit as many threes as he did last year. DeRozan hit both of his threes Monday night in New York, putting him at 5-for-8 on the season. And unless he misses his next 44 attempts, that 5-for-52 season will be a distant memory.
“I think last year, I wasn’t comfortable with it,” DeRozan said after his Raptors held off the Knicks for their second win of the season. “I was timid about shooting it. When I shoot it now, I shoot it with confidence, like I know it’s going in.”
That confidence is the result of a ton of work in Los Angeles this summer. DeRozan said that, five or six days a week in the offseason, he’d follow up his weight and skill work with a night session where he’d make 250 mid-range jumpers and 250 threes.
DeRozan had already made an improvement from mid-range. He went from shooting 36.9 percent from mid-range in his rookie season to 41.8 percent last year. That was better than the league average of 40.0 percent. Now, he’s extending his range beyond the arc. And though new Raptors coach Dwane Casey was aware of those historically bad numbers from last year, he’s giving DeRozan the green light.
“You’re allowed to shoot the shot if I see you working in practice, after hours, at night time when they come back,” Casey said. “And he’s done that. He’s put in the after-hours shooting with [assistant coach] Eric Hughes and he’s done a good job of, main thing, working at a game tempo.”
The Raptors are unlikely to make the postseason this year, but they’ve got the potential for a very bright future. That’s especially true if DeRozan, who’s only 22 years old, can become a complete player. In addition to improvement on defense, being able to shoot the three is a big step for DeRozan’s development.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Casey said.