By Drew Packham, NBA.com
Posted Dec 9 2009 5:34PM
I'll say this for Toronto Raptors fans: They're a vocal bunch.
And they think I have no clue about DeMar DeRozan.
It's true that DeRozan has been absent from the last four Rookie Rankings, but aside from starting every game and providing energy, DeRozan's statistics haven't warranted a spot in the top 10.
Over his last four games, the Compton, Calif., product -- who grew up playing with Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings -- is averaging 15.7 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 49 percent, 86 percent from the line.
DeRozan credits a newfound aggressiveness for his increase in production.
"I got too caught up with being a jump-shooter," he told the Montreal Gazette. "I had to get back to what I did best."
What DeRozan does best is get to the basket. Not only has he had several highlight-reel dunks (check out this one on the Bulls), but he's getting to the line, where he's done a large part of his damage.
"It's like figuring out how to talk to a girl -- you finally know what to say," DeRozan said Tuesday after going 7-for-7 on free throws in the Raptors' 94-88 win over the Wolves. "I have an infatuation with the line. I just want to get there; it's easy points."
In his first 19 games, DeRozan took just 28 free throws. In his last four, he's taken 29. It's no coincidence that the Raptors have won three straight to improve their record to 10-13.
"Right now, he seems to have a lot of confidence taking the ball to the basket," Raptors coach Jay Triano told the Gazette. "I think we have been a little bit more liberal in giving him the ball in transition and letting him create, and I think because of that he has prospered."
NBA.com's Rookie Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Wednesday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for Drew Packham, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter. For past week's rankings, click here.
Honorable Mention: Taj Gibson, Bulls: Was a very tough decision keeping Gibson out of top 10, especially after he averaged 11.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in four games. Gibson is first among rookies in rebounding with 5.8 per game. Set career-highs in scoring (20 vs. Nets) and rebounds (14 vs. Cavs) this week; Chase Budinger, Rockets: Averaged 14 points while hitting 15-of-28 shots (5 of 6 threes) in three games; Wayne Ellington, Timberwolves: Saw increased playing time (24.8 mpg) in four games this week, averaging eight points; Marcus Thornton, Hornets: Return of Peja Stojakovic has cut into playing time, but still crucial to Hornets' success; Darren Collison, Hornets: Only played 16 mpg in two games since Chris Paul returned.
Dropped out: Marcus Thornton, Darren Collison
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