DeRozan’s January Struggles

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AT&T CENTER – In the month of January, San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan is struggling with scoring and taking care of the ball.

Even after missing Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves with left ankle soreness, DeRozan has still logged the most minutes of any Spur, by 98 minutes to be exact.

But, DeRozan won’t blame his struggles on fatigue.

“Physically, I’m okay, I’ve just been playing like (expletive),” said DeRozan Sunday. “It’s going to turnaround. I’d rather have those moments now, tough days, and figure it out. But I always thrive on adversity some way.”

In the Spurs’ 103-95 loss to the Clippers, DeRozan finished with four made baskets and four turnovers in 29 minutes. He logged his worst shooting game of the season (4/16 for 8 points), and it was one of the rare times in the last five minutes of a game where Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich pulled DeRozan while keeping some of the other core players in.

DeRozan has played in nine January games where he’s logging 36.1 minutes, shooting 39% from the floor, 73% from the free throw line, collecting 7.2 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and scoring 15.3 points. He’s also struggling in taking care of the ball this month, where’s turning the ball over 3.8 times per game.

DeRozan is currently in a funk. That could be attributed to some of the defenses he’s had to face this month, perhaps the number of minutes he’s played this season are starting to impact him, or it could just be that his shot is off and he’s turning the ball over in unusual ways.

I was interested in seeing which part of DeRozan’s struggles have had more of an impact on the Spurs’ record – his bad shooting nights, or his high turnover games?

I first looked at games where DeRozan shoots below 40% from the floor in a game, and it turns out the Spurs are 5-6 when that happens. Here are his games by month of shooting below 40% from the field and the opponent.

October – 1 (Lakers)

November – 2 (Pelicans, Rockets)

December – 3 (Suns, Bulls, Celtics)

January – 5 (Grizzlies twice, Thunder twice, Clippers)

So, with the Spurs winning 45% of their games when DeRozan shoots below 40%, I then turned to seeing how they perform when he turns the ball over four or more times in a game. The results show the team is much worse when this happens, where their record is 6-10. Here are the games by month and opponent where DeRozan has logged 4 or more turnovers in a game.

October – 1 (Lakers)

November – 6 (Magic, Rockets twice, Kings, Grizzlies, Timberwolves)

December – 3 (Blazers, Bulls, Timberwolves)

January – 6 (Grizzlies twice, Thunder twice, Hornets, Clippers)

The data shows the team is only winning 37.5% of their games when DeRozan turns the ball over 4 or more times in a game. I was then intrigued to watch the film and see how DeRozan is turning the ball over so much this month. I went back and watched all of his available turnovers in January.

After watching the film, the two most common ways he’s been collecting turnovers in January are from bad passes and losing the ball out of bounds or off himself. When he’s trying to penetrate or pass out of the post, his passes are either getting swiped by the help defense, getting picked off on the way to the receiver, or just off enough where his teammates miss it and it goes out of bounds. When it comes to turning the ball over on himself, that’s exactly what’s happening. DeRozan’s had some uncharacteristic turnovers where he’ll try to initiate a crossover and the ball randomly goes off his foot or slides off his hand. He’s even stepped out of bounds with the ball a few times on the baseline.

As his monthly turnover data shows, he had a tough stretch in November, but he was able to turn it around in December. That could still potentially be the case for January, especially with the uncharacteristic turnovers where the ball is just going randomly off his hands or feet.

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s still 10 days left in January, so there’s time for DeRozan to try to improve his shooting and turnovers before the month wraps up.

The next graphic shows that over the last five seasons, when he has a tough stretch, DeRozan is usually able to rebound with a better stretch of games.

DeMar DeRozan’s points and turnovers per game over the last five seasons. For games 41-50 in 2018-19, only 7 games have been logged.

As the data shows, if anyone knows it’s a long season with ups and downs, it’s DeRozan.

“You’ve just got to face it head first,” continued DeRozan Sunday. “Don’t try to shy around it, can’t make excuses about it. You’ve just got to face it head first. Take the good with the bad, take the bad with the good, understand you’ll get out of it.”

“Nobody’s perfect you know. You put a lot of work, everything I worked on, it’s going to turn, I’m not worried about it.”

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