Topic: to work smart for DeMar because hes had a long summer,

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Burke, who tragically died at age 29 from a training accident in 2012, headlined the 2014 class named for induction Wednesday.TORONTO - The NBA is evolving, as Dwane Casey would tell you, and few are better prepared to thrive in what has turned into a year-round game than Toronto Raptors self-made All-Star, DeMar DeRozan. Gone are the days when players are afforded the luxury of returning to training camp each fall fresh off of a five-month summer vacation. If youre not using that valuable free time to work and get ahead, youre almost certainly falling behind. Nowadays, guys take very few days off in the summer if youre serious about being an NBA player, Casey said. Because the NBA stands for Never Be Average and if you dont work, you will be average. Thats where DeRozan has separated himself, working feverishly and adding something new to his arsenal in between each of his five NBA seasons. Entering his sixth year, hes coming off what he calls his busiest summer ever and is already starting to reap the benefits, just two weeks into camp. Hes in mid-season form right now, Raptors assistant coach Tom Sterner said of DeRozan, who has picked up right where he left off, scoring 68 points in 79 minutes through four exhibition games. After the Raptors were eliminated in seven games during the first round of the playoffs, his post-season debut, DeRozan took very little time off over the summer months. In addition to keeping - and helping Terrence Ross adopt - a strict training regiment, he traveled to the Philippines for an NBA showcase in July and spent most of August and September with USA Basketball, competing in the FIBA World Cup, where he helped his country win gold. I had a lot going [on], DeRozan told TSN.ca. Its definitely been a busier summer, but in a good way. Me personally, I never like playing catch-up, he continued. Id rather do that on my own time, when I first start working out after the season. Me and [Kyle Lowry] understand we carry a big load and weve got to lead by example. So if we come into training camp out of shape or whatever, its going to look bad and might carry over for the rest of our team. Weve got to push them and show them were working extremely hard. Weve got to be the toughest dudes out there when it comes to working hard. Thats our mindset and its been going well. Indeed, his team has followed suit. For the second straight year, Lowry has come back to the Raptors in excellent shape, also getting off to a quick start in camp and exhibition. Casey has praised the rest of his soldiers for their conditioning, as well. Very little time has been wasted on reconstructing bodies, instead theyve been able to focus on basketball and building on what they were able to accomplish together a year ago, a luxury for any coaching staff. I dont know if we had anyone on our entire team that came in out of shape, said Casey. Maybe a few pounds overweight for a couple guys, but they were in pretty good condition. So we didnt have to waste any time running wind sprints - we did a few days, just to make sure we knew it was training camp - but basketball-wise, they were in pretty good condition. DeRozan joked that he could play 40 minutes right now if needed, to which Casey smiled and rolled his eyes. The coach would never permit it, not with a long and demanding season ahead (only Kevin Durant and Monta Ellis logged more court time than DeRozan last year), but the 25-year-old guard was only half-kidding - he could and he would. This seems to be the case at this time every year, but DeRozan looks like a different, more confident player. Once again, he has added to his game, refining his handle and passing acumen during the off-season. DeRozan goes above and beyond, even taking his work home with him. In an attempt to become an ambidextrous player, he would perform menial tasks with his left hand - eating, brushing his teeth and even writing out the alphabet with his young daughter. It hasnt gone unnoticed. Early in the first quarter of Mondays pre-season win over the Knicks, DeRozan, using an Amir Johnson screeen, bobbled his dribble at the top of the three-point arc. [url=http://www.authenticjuventusteamshop.us/Neto-Juventus-Jersey/]Neto Jersey[/url]. Recovering from what would have been a likely turnover a year ago, he kept his dribble alive and maneuvered around four Knicks players before hitting a lefty scoop shot in the lane. The development of DeMar DeRozan, Sterner said, his commitment to being the best player that he can, hes now benefiting from all the hard work. DeMar is smooth right now. Hes making plays now. Beyond that his confidence continues to grow, the result of an All-Star selection, the first winning season of his young career, a playoff berth and, most recently, the opportunity to play for his country and learn from some of the best in the world. I think just being around 11 top players in our league for a month and a half and learning from them, day in and day out, really played a big part in mental focus and really changing my approach to the game more, he said of his experience with Team USA, training in Las Vegas and then competing in Spain. He had been involved with the national teams program in the past, participating with the select squad, but this summer was different. Actually winning a gold medal and being on the actual team, instead of just being one of the guys trying to make the team, I feel like I just took that next step, said the Raptors guard. Thats what it was all about. The darkest moment of the experience for him, and everyone else on that team, occurred during a scrimmage in a Vegas gym when DeRozan watched Paul George, a friend and teammate, suffer a gruesome leg injury. It was a freak accident, as George collided with the stanchion below the basket. It was just a dead moment, DeRozan recalls. A real dead, sad moment. Most would acknowledge, and George would be the first to say, an injury like that can happen anywhere, at anytime, but some have used it to further an ongoing dispute, claiming the risk of lending NBA players to international competition is simply not worth the reward. Understandably, DeRozan does not take kindly to those who seek to rob others of the experience he values so highly. You can slip down the stairs and hurt yourself, he pointed out. It dont mean nothing. Thats all bullcrap, honestly, when people say that, because when you have the opportunity to do something that you might never have in your life again, why not do it? I couldnt even explain it in words, honestly. It was so much. It was just life, you know what I mean? Overall, when it comes to life and basketball, your personal life, everything. You go through so much and you see something new that basketball takes you to. It took me winning a gold medal and everything else speaks for itself. DeRozan believes he has come out of it a different, more mature player, a new and improved man. Its hard to argue with him based on the early returns. At 25 years old, still developing and yet to reach his prime, the Raptors guard is about to embark on his most challenging season yet. New expectations - both individually and as a team - greater pressure and more responsibility await him. Physically, Casey has already begun preparing him for it. DeRozan sat out the second half in New York on Monday and the Raptors coaching staff will continue to monitor his minutes closely during exhibition, keeping his busy off-season in mind. We have to work smart for DeMar because hes had a long summer, said Casey. You can work hard, but weve got to be smart in making sure we are efficient with his minutes on the floor. Mentally, DeRozan knows whats ahead of him and is more than ready to get started. I learned something new last year, he said. To be prepared for the playoffs, you have to really take care of your body, really be in shape, playing an extended, longer season than Im usually playing. So this summer, I really stepped up my conditioning, weight training, understanding Ive got to get a lot stronger come March, April, going into the playoffs. 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