DeMar DeRozan is the main asset the San Antonio Spurs received when they traded Kawhi Leonard, but he may not be in their long-term plans.
As noted by The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the four-time All-Star was “quite a ways apart” from agreeing to a contract extension with San Antonio before the season. As such, it remains possible that the Spurs decide to trade the 30-year-old wing before the deadline in February to get something back for the veteran shooting guard.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, one team that has expressed interest in DeRozan is the Orlando Magic (via The Ringer):
“The Spurs could always deal him sooner rather than let him walk for nothing. Multiple league sources say the Magic are scouring the trade market for scoring help and have already expressed interest in trading for DeRozan. It would surprise none of the front-office executives I’ve spoken with if the Spurs did move DeRozan.”
Orlando would certainly not be willing to part with Nikola Vucevic or Aaron Gordon for a 30-year-old DeRozan. But perhaps for one of the Magic’s more ancillary pieces, a deal would be realistic.
Considering that DeRozan is one of the most prolific mid-range shooters of the last decade, the first question is whether the Magic would allow him to play that style if such a transaction occurred.
First, to properly contextualize just how important this is to his offensive role, the San Antonio wing is currently averaging more mid-range field goal attempts per game (7.0) than any other player in the league. In fact, he has connected on more mid-range field goals (33) than six different NBA teams have so far this season.
Orlando would be a natural fit in this regard considering they rank third among all NBA teams in frequency of mid-range shots, per Cleaning the Glass.
Last season, Magic wing (and former DeRozan teammate) Terrence Ross ranked ninth in mid-range field goals attempted. Considering that coach Steve Clifford allowed Ross to fire so often in this zone, the expectation should be that DeRozan would be given a similar green light.
When including passes, DeRozan has finished nearly half of his offensive possessions as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. That would also make him a strong fit alongside Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, who leads all active players in scoring (6.6 ppg) from these sets.
Vucevic ranks Top 5 in total scoring on pick-and-pop opportunities and just a few slots behind current DeRozan teammate LaMarcus Aldridge. The two-man offense of Vucevic and DeRozan is quite a bit better than anything else Orlando has on their roster.
But perhaps the biggest need that the Magic have right now is a lack of any one-on-one scoring threat. The team currently ranks 29th in isolation points, averaging just 3.1 ppg.
DeRozan ranks Top 20 among all NBA players on ISOs (2.5 ppg), more than doubling the output of Orlando’s current isolation-scoring leader DJ Augustin (0.9 ppg). For context: DeRozan has finished Top 20 in isolation-scoring each season since 2012-13.
In fact, he averaged almost exactly as many points (4.1 ppg) on ISOs as the entire Magic roster (4.2 ppg) last season. When including his passes in 2018-10, only Houston’s James Harden produced more points per game on this play type.
For the Magic to return to the playoffs after making it last year, a scorer like DeRozan would go a long way. If San Antonio is willing to accept a discount on a trade just so they don’t lose him for nothing as a free agent in July, he could be an interesting addition for Orlando.