When he was last in Toronto, Dwyane Wade paid DeMar DeRozan quite the compliment.
"He reminds me of me," Wade said. "Obviously, he does it in his own way, but I love the way that he plays at his own pace. I love the way he mixes in his shot fakes, and his athletic ability, his post game, his midrange, that's about the same things I tried to do about the same time when he did it."
When told of Wade's praise, DeRozan was rather pleased.
"I watched him growing up, I watched him at Marquette, I watched him throughout," DeRozan said. "I remember, it's crazy, when I played in the All-Star Game the first time, I told him I stole the pump fake from him. He was just giving me a little insight on how he was so effective with it. I just let it be known I stole that from him. But D-Wade is one of them guys that, since I got in the league, I've had so much respect for. Even when I was young, he always gave me a lot of advice, year after year, of him seeing me grow as a player. That gave me a lot of confidence early on."
And now, there's no young two-guard -- DeRozan is just 26 -- who is as similar to Wade, in terms of the way the latter has typically played. None relies as much of working inside the arc, and getting to the line, to make up for a lack of three-point touch.
(Click here for the 2015-16 season comparison)
"A lot of the younger guys probably don't realize it, but D-Wade was one of the best two-guards that never really shot," DeRozan said. "You know what I mean? He just didn't have to. The man scored 50, 55 points on occasion, to where he would take only a few jumpshots. He was so crafty, getting to the basket and doing so many things. I've been quoted on this many times, that D-Wade was always the toughest guy for me to go against, because he's crafty at being able to get into the lane, use screens, draw fouls. I definitely took that from them."
DeRozan also took this:
"There's so many ways to score the basketball," he said. "From how point guards score, how wings score, how big men score. That's one of the things I try to pay attention to, I always watch old school guys play. You watch film of Alex English play. It was the slowest game ever, but he got to his spots, made his shots. And he's a top-20 scorer of all-time. To me, I feel like there's no certain way to score. It's whatever is most comfortable for you, and what you want to apply for yourself."
We've seen that with Wade this season. He doesn't beat every player off the dribble anymore, but he wins at the end if the ball goes through the basket. DeRozan is more athletic now than Wade is but, when Raptors guard came back from injury last season, he started thinking about how he'll play when he's older, when he can't jump quite as high.
"I'm going to have to get to that point at some point in my career," DeRozan said. "I don't want to have to figure it out when I'm 33, 34, 35. That's one thing I've been conscious of lately, use your athleticism when you have to. But these days, kids coming in every year, more athletic, more athletic. So just being able to get comfortable knowing you don't have to use it. But once you don't have anymore, it's not a panic. You can go to the old-school game, so to speak. Go to the post, draw fouls, be more of a crafty player."
A player like Wade, whom DeRozan said, along with Kobe Bryant, "is my guy."
That guy has no problem that DeRozan is using the shot fake so much.
"No, I stole it from somebody else too," Wade said, laughing. "This is a look and see league... and take."
They'll take turns at the two-guard spot for the East on Sunday night.
They may even play together some.
And you may be forgiven for wondering whether they would work together -- with lofty basketball IQ but little spacing capability -- when DeRozan is a free agent this summer.