NY Knicks Free Agency: The case against DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan, NY Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan, NY Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks
NY Knicks, DeMar DeRozan (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

NY Knicks: DeMar DeRozan negatively impacts the team’s spacing

This is a negative that you’ll hear about DeRozan from any team that shows interest in him – he can’t shoot 3s.

Here’s the distinction to make – this doesn’t mean that DeMar DeRozan is an objectively “bad” player, but rather, there are limitations to how he can blend into an offense and actually improve the team as a whole. It has nothing to do with DeRozan being a “selfish player” (he’s not) it’s just what he and doesn’t do well on the court.

DeRozan’s off-ball game is a weakness and we saw what having a perimeter player be a non-factor off the ball (Elfrid Payton) can do in limiting the offense.

DeRozan can’t catch and shoot – he averaged 2 “catch-and-shoot” shot attempts per game in 2020-21 and shot 32.5% from the field. This alone causes defenses to not pay him much attention without the ball in his hands.

The NY Knicks run a slow, isolation-heavy offense that you might initially think DeRozan would thrive in.

Being a slow offense isn’t a flaw. Being an offense without movement is a flaw, and DeRozan wouldn’t add anything to increasing New York’s movement. DeRozan averaged the 3rd most seconds per touch of any player listed as a forward in the NBA, only behind Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s a ball-stopper.

Do the Knicks need more players who can create their own shot with the ball in their hands? Absolutely, but there are plenty of other options outside of DeRozan who can do that without hampering the team’s half-court ball movement and speed.

There are options out there, some who will cost as much as DeRozan and some who are role players, that can be equally effective creating with the ball in their hands as they can be running around the perimeter off-ball.

Think about the other successful slow teams in the league. The Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, who run half-court offenses that feature tons of off-ball movement. Chris Paul and Nikola Jokic may have the ball, but Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr, and everyone else are wreaking havoc moving around the perimeter. It’s something New York needs to look to replicate if they are to thrive in Thibodeau’s system.

DeRozan wouldn’t just be a negative for the team as a whole but he would stunt the growth of individual Knicks players.