New Raptors coach wants to stop hiding DeMar DeRozan on defense
Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan should be seeing some increased defensive responsibility under new head coach Nick Nurse.
During a recent interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Nurse indicated that he would like to stop hiding the four-time All-Star guard on defense.
“I’m more concerned, on DeMar — and I’ve already talked to him about this — is that he becomes a little bit more focused, defensively,” said the rookie head coach, per Emily Sadler of Sportsnet. “Some of the experimentation we were talking about, maybe instead of hiding him in a regular season game on a poor offensive player in December, maybe we’re gonna throw him on an All-Star.
“Maybe it costs us a little bit, but maybe he learns a thing or two that will help him down the line,” Nurse added about DeRozan. “We need to challenge him on that end of the floor. We need to hold him a little bit more accountable. We’re gonna do that, and he’s on board with that.”
Throughout his NBA career, the 28-year-old DeRozan has been known as a near-elite offensive player and a below-average (at best) defender. Be it PJ Tucker or DeMarre Carroll (in years past) or rookie OG Anunoby (last year), another Raptor usually takes the other team’s top perimeter scorer. Backcourt partner Kyle Lowry will sometimes also switch onto DeRozan’s spot at the 2 on defense if a particularly troublesome shooting guard matchup beckons.
Though at 6-foot-7 with a wingspan two inches longer than that, DeRozan has the physical tools where he should be able to hold his own on D. We know that Toronto recently even considered the possibility of trading him, so improving his two-way impact under Nurse would definitely benefit all parties involved.