DeMar DeRozan is midway through his second season as a member of the San Antonio Spurs but he won't forget the impact his first nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors has had on his career.
Early in the 2019-20 season, DeRozan appeared on HBO's "The Shop" alongside LeBron James, agent Rich Paul and a host of other big-name celebrities, where he spoke about what being drafted by the Raptors did for him:
"Getting drafted to Toronto was the best thing that happened for my career," DeRozan began.
Toronto, of course, selected the Compton, CA native ninth overall out of the University of Southern California in the 2009 NBA Draft. He continued, sharing that it was a bit of a shock to go from playing in his backyard to a new country, adding that prior to the draft he didn't even have a passport.
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The four-time All-Star continued, adding that the ways in which the team's composition at the time accelerated his individual development, saying "I'm the only rookie on the team. So I'm just in the gym every single night.
"I'm about to do what he doing. I'm doing what he doing. I'm just like, doing my research on everybody. But I'm glad I took that approach because it was guys in my fourth, fifth, year still wondering like… 'Damn like, I ain't even been to the playoffs.'"
In his rookie campaign, DeRozan started in 65 of the 77 games he appeared in and averaged 8.6 points per contest. By his fifth season, he earned the first All-Star selection of his career and helped lead the Raptors to the first of five consecutive postseason appearances during his time with the franchise.
After the blockbuster trade in the offseason of 2018 ended his time as a Raptor, DeRozan left as the franchise's all-time leader in a number of statistical categories including points scored, games and minutes played.
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Through 114 games with San Antonio, DeRozan has impressed with averages of 21.6 points, 5.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. He and the Spurs are set to make their lone visit to Scotiabank Arena to face the Raptors on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.
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