Long before he even landed in Canada, DeMar DeRozan was known worldwide for his dunking abilities. The Compton native has been compared to everyone from the Chicago playground legend Ronnie Fields to another former Raptors high flyer, Vince Carter. There’s no question that people in Toronto were thrilled when the Raptors made the super athletic shooting guard out of USC the ninth overall selection in last June’s draft.
DeRozan has started all 41 of the Raptors’ games and has averaged 8 ppg and 2.8 rpg. While he still has a long ways to go – particularly with his outside shot – he’s shown some flashes of promise. Against the Knicks on Friday night, DeRozan scored 19 points and displayed his aggressiveness by getting to the line 14 times.
Over the year, he’s also raised some eyebrows with his dunk repertoire. On All-Star Weekend, DeRozan will get to show off those hops even more when he competes in the first ever Dunk-In contest between him and the Clippers’ Eric Gordon. The winner of the duel (that will take place during halftime of the Rookie/Sophomore Game) will compete in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night.
I sat down with DeMar before the Knicks/Raptors game on Friday to discuss the dunk contest among other things…
Dime: How excited are you for the Dunk-In?
DeMar DeRozan: I’m very excited. It’s just an honor to be out there representing my teammates. It should be fun.
Dime: What do you know about Eric Gordon as a dunker?
DD: He’s not a dunker, I know he’s a three-point shooter (laughs). But, you know, I’ve seen him do some stuff, he can get up. He’s athletic, I’m not going to underestimate him at all. I know he can get up and do a couple of things, so it should be interesting.
Dime: Do you already have some tricks up your sleeve?
DD: Yeah, I always have some tricks up my sleeve when it comes down to a dunk contest. But I can’t tell y’all what it’s going to be, you’re just going to have to wait.
Dime:When was the last time you competed in a dunk contest?
DD: The McDonald’s contest in high school (he won the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest in 2008).
Dime: Did you watch a lot of dunk contests growing up?
DD: Yeah, I watched the NBA one every year. I was always interested in dunk contests. You know, it’s entertaining. It’s fun to watch players do a lot of stuff that they maybe wouldn’t do in a game, so it’s very interesting.
Dime: Give me your top three dunks of all time in an NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
DD: My top three? Vince Carter dunk in 2000. The 360 windmill. I’d also have to say Jordan, when he came up and under with one hand (DeMar imitates the dunk that is on the 1:46 mark of this video). Then the year Jason Richardson won it, where he went between his legs.
Dime: You’ve been in the league a couple of months now. Who is the best player you’ve faced so far?
DD: So far? I’d say Dwyane Wade…by far.
Dime: How do you think you’re season is going so far?
DD: The season is going great. I’m still learning, still getting better every day and that’s what I’m looking for.
Dime: How are you liking Canada?
DD: You know I love it. I hate the weather though, it’s too cold. It’s way different from back home in L.A. I love the city. There’s not too much difference. It’s more diverse, I’d have to say that about Toronto. Since it’s international, I do a lot of Skyping and iChat to people back home, so I’m glad we have technology. Other than that it’s the same.
Dime: Who is the best player from L.A. that’s not in the league right now but should be?
DD: I’d say Jeff Trepagnier. He went to USC. He got in the league but didn’t stay long. But I think he should be in the League.
Dime: When you were in high school, did you play a lot of pickup with NBA guys?
DD: LeBron and Kobe, going to their camps and everything. Paul Pierce also. When I was younger, I used to go to Tayshaun Prince’s house a lot and play in his backyard.