Year 2 in the NBA has turned into a solid season for Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan.
He has improved his output, nearly doubling his scoring from his rookie season. He has shot the basketball well.
His defense has improved and his knowledge of the game has grown.
DeRozan, a standout in his one season at USC, is making strides to become a better NBA player.
"The experience is the main thing, just knowing what I have to do, what I'm expected to get from every player every night," DeRozan said. "I've just been able to learn from my first year and carry it over to my second year."
DeRozan was in town Friday night with the Raptors to face his hometown Lakers at Staples Center.
He left about 30 tickets for family and friends and did his best to perform for them.
DeRozan finished with 14 points on seven-for-18 shooting in Toronto's 108-103 loss.
He averaged 8.6 points on 49.8% shooting, and shot 25% from three-point range, last season.
Entering the game against the Lakers, DeRozan was second on the Raptors in scoring, averaging 15.8 points on 50% shooting, but only 25% (one for four) on three-pointers.
More is expected of DeRozan since Chris Bosh left the Raptors and signed with the Miami Heat, and he is trying to deliver.
"I think my role has changed a lot," DeRozan said. "I want to go out there and do more. Now I think the coaches want me to go out there and do more and they are expecting more from me. And I took on that challenge."
Ever since his days at Compton High, DeRozan has been a Lakers fan.
He had watched Kobe Bryant play all those years while growing up Southern California.
But he couldn't view Bryant as his idol when they faced off Friday night.
"When I go out there and play, it's another opponent," DeRozan said. "We're going to have to battle out there and try to get the win. But Kobe has always been my favorite player. I've watched him since I can remember. I remember when he was getting drafted. But going up against him now, it's all business."
DeRozan worked all summer to improve his game.
He wanted to get stronger and work on ballhandling skills and become a better shooter off the dribble.
His jump shot still needs some work, but DeRozan is willing to work.
"I just wanted to work on the little things and not always try to use my athleticism," DeRozan said. "I've seen some progress, but I still look at it and realize that I can get a whole lot better."