Quick history lesson:
Vince Carter joined the Toronto Raptors in 1998 as a result of the Raps and the Golden State Warriors trading picks. Vince was hailed a hero and a franchise player. The fans loved him.
In 2004, Vince was traded away from the Raptors to the Nets in one of the most lopsided trades in history. The Raptors fans hated him.
In 2003, the Raptors drafted Chris Bosh. He was heralded as the Raptors saviour. The new franchise player. The fans loved him. Fast forward to 2010 and Chris Bosh decided to leave the club and partially announce his intentions to abandon the Raptors via Twitter. The fans hated him.
In 2009, the Toronto Raptors drafted Demar Derozan. He’s loved by the Toronto fans but will he be the next franchise player? He’s certainly shown flashes of what he can do, racking up 37 points against the Houston Rockets and participating in the Slam dunk contest in consecutive years, thrilling the masses on both occasions.
But doesn’t it sound a little too familiar? Isn’t this the same beginning that Carter and Bosh experienced?
So do the same fortune and fate await Derozan?
“I don’t look at it (potentially being the new franchise player) as pressure. I just look at is a new challenge and an opportunity to take advantage of.”
That may be so but does Demar believe history is repeating itself and the player that the Raps get on draft night will turn into the new franchise player?
“You know, I just want to do whatever I can for the team. If that’s what they want me to be, I’ll definitely step up and take the role of that. But as of now I’m just trying be whatever the team needs me to be.”
For now the team is happy to let the young shooting guard develop his game under the watchful eye of former NBA great and Raptors assistant coach, Alex English and it seems to be working.
The support that the coaching staff and his team mates have given him have allowed his confidence to grow and it’s due to that, that Derozan’s points per game have gone up consistently every month since the season began:
“My confidence level has definitely grown every week and every month that I go through. I definitely get more confident and get better. I just want to do as much as I can to help this team.”
Those numbers will help his team eventually but not this season. The future is where this young Raptors team needs to set it’s sights and it’s reassuring to know that the 21 year old acknowledges as much:
“I know we’ve had a tough season this year but we’ve got to finish off strong and look forward to next year.”
Next year may be the season that the Raptors get back to the play-offs. That’s where Demar Derozan has to take them.
After all, that’s what a franchise player would do.
Follow Keith Firmin on Twitter @keiththejourno