DeRozan takes slow route

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

In the NBA's version of the tortoise and the hare, DeMar DeRozan is the tortoise and Brandon Jennings is the hare.

OK, that may be a stretch at this point. Jennings' name has been front and centre with rookie of the year talk since he dropped 55 points on the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 14.

DeRozan has had his share of highlight dunks but nothing close to the numbers Jennings (21.3 points a night) is putting up or the rookie hype.

But when the segment of the '09 rookie class that hails from Compton, Calif. -- all two of them -- get together tonight in Milwaukee, as far as DeRozan is concerned the race is just getting started.

Sure, Jennings has that 55 on his resume and is almost doubling DeRozan's average of 19 minutes a game, but if there is one thing DeRozan has learned about the NBA already, it's your body of work that defines you, not how you start.

And that plays right into DeRozan's hands and potentially out of Jennings.

"Brandon is real high energy," DeRozan said. "He will come out of the gate and try and kill you. He never had that pace. With him it's all go, go, go, go,"

So DeRozan isn't exactly surprised to see his good friend's early production pace tail off a bit of late.

In six games from Nov. 11 through Nov. 21, Jennings averaged 31 points, which included that huge game against the Warriors. In the eight games since he is averaging 16 points, still good numbers for any rookie but well shy of his earlier production

DeRozan and Jennings have been trading texts back and forth all season so DeRozan knows exactly what his good friend has been going through and he has no doubt it only will make Jennings a better player.

"I think it will be a good learning experience for him," DeRozan said. "Once he gets it going again he's going to understand that you can't go 100 miles per hour all the time. You're going to hit that wall.

"This is the NBA. Everyone is watching you. Everyone is going to study how you play and try and shut you down. You have to know how to go out there and do different things. He's going to be all right though."

In contrast, DeRozan feels he's just getting going as his more modest stats suggest. While he is averaging 7.7 points a game in 19 minutes, DeRozan's best basketball has come in the past three games in which he's averaging 16 points and attacking the rim with reckless abandon.

"Coming into this season I knew I had 82 games and my goal was to get better each game out," DeRozan said. "Learn something from the night before and try and take it into the next game and just build from there."

DeRozan believes he's right on course and if the rookie of the year talk hasn't come his way yet, he's not concerned.

" It should be real interesting come the end of the season," he said.

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA

Jennings and DeRozan were teammates back in the sixth grade and through high school played AAU and Nationals together. DeRozan counts Jennings, James Harden, and Jrue Holiday among his closest friends in the NBA.

Jennings and DeRozan share the longest bond and have been

We were about the sxith or seventh grade playing together, nationals, AAU, all that and played togehter through high schoo. Him and I have always had that connection. I told people back in high school he was the best point guard I ever played with and you see that now.

I think it's great to be able to go up against someone who is in the same position as you. It should be fun.

Talked before the season. We always shoot text messages back and forth. Just to say good game or give each other a confidence boost. We talk about the ups and downs in a season.

Brandon is real high energy. He will come out of the gate and try and kill you. He never had that pace. With him it's all go, go, go, go. I think it will be a good learning experience for him. Once he gets it going again he's going to understand that you can't go 100 miles per hour all the time. You're going to hit that wall. This is the NBA. Everyone is watching you. EVeryone is goign to study how you play and try and shut you down. You have to know how to go out there and do different things. He's going to be all right though.

Brandon Jennings, James Harden, James Johnson. Jrue Holiday.

That's my whole approach. I know there's going to be a lot more games and there was so much more I had to learn. It was easy in high school. In college and the NBA you're watching all kinds of film trying ot gradually get better. Coming into this season I knew I had 82 games and my goal was to get better each game out. Learn something fromt he night before and try and take it into the next game and just build from there.

Right now I'm not satisfied with the way I'm playing. I've been playing great but I feel I can do a lot more especially rebounding wise on the defensive end.

You never seen a rookie do 55. Defnitely. Any rookie scores 55 you have to be talking that way. If I score 55 toinght I guarantee you they will be saying rookie of the year. Taht's jsut how it works. But you have to evaulate a palyer at the end of all 82 games.

It's a bunch. YOu see a lot of players getting better every game. It should be real interesting come the end of the season.


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