The 32-year old DeMar DeRozan is in the middle of his first season with the Chicago Bulls after coming over from the San Antonio Spurs in a sign-and-trade deal. In return for the 12-year veteran, Chicago sent back two veterans of its own in Al-Farouq Aminu and Thaddeus Young, in addition to a protected first-round pick along with two second-rounders. The blockbuster deal sent shockwaves across the NBA, with some even going as far as calling DeRozan “the worst signing of the offseason.” That takes aged like milk, for anyone wondering.
Facing plenty of questions, the forward has excelled, propelling himself into the MVP conversation. Sure, DeRozan’s not the front-runner for the award. However, it doesn’t hurt to highlight the incredible season this year’s All-Star starter is having.
DeMar DeMVP: Why the Chicago Superstar Deserves Your Respect
Putting the Team On His Back
To start, DeRozan’s peripheral numbers. The former Toronto Raptor is averaging 28.2 points per game, 5 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 35.8 percent from three, by far a career-high. He’s 4th in the entire Association in points per game and has sliced defenses with his deadly mid-range shot. With stats like those, it’s easy to understand why DeRozan’s been so key to his team’s success.
The Chicago Bulls are currently second in the Eastern Conference, just two games back of the first-place Miami Heat. That’s been despite major injuries to their backcourt, long-term ones at that. Lonzo Ball, the team’s starting point guard, has only played in 35 games this season and is recovering from left knee surgery. Alex Caruso has been a key leader on defense for the Bulls but hasn’t played since January 21st after fracturing his right wrist on a hard fall while driving to the basket. Don’t forget about sophomore Patrick Williams either, who was expected to start and play an instrumental role in his second season. Instead, the Florida State product tore ligaments in his left wrist and dislocated it.
Even with all of the unfortunate injuries, the Bulls have still managed to overcome all of those obstacles. To climb to where they are now in the second seed has been great to see. Early season predictions pegged Chicago as no higher than the sixth seed, or even a play-in team at best.
Yes, DeRozan is part of a Bulls Big Three that features high-octane guard Zach LaVine and an All-Star last year in center Nikola Vucevic. With that in mind, DeMar has been the de facto leader for the team night in and night out.
The King of the Fourth Quarter
DeRozan has been one the most clutch player in the entire NBA this season. His win shares, which estimate how many wins a player adds to his team, are at 8.0. That’s the highest mark by a Chicago Bull since the 2016-17 season. That season was also the last time the Bulls made the playoffs, led by Jimmy Butler and his mark of 13.8. While DeRozan may not catch Butler there, the Bulls are on pace for their best regular-season record since the Derrick Rose era.
DeRozan, even without the advanced stats, has still been the best 4th quarter performer in the NBA. The forward has scored 443 total points in the fourth quarter. That’s miles ahead of second-place Giannis Antetkounmpo, with 384 points, albeit in only 51 games. DeRozan is even tied for the third-best record in the NBA in clutch scoring, at 20-11. His killer mid-range game is ice cold in the fourth quarter, shooting 95/6 percent on 2-pointers in that span.
If that wasn’t enough, DeRozan also hit two buzzer-beater game-winners in back-to-back games. By comparison, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored the first buzzer-beater of his career earlier this year. When you’re doing better in the clutch than the flamethrower Stephen Curry is, that’s usually a great sign.
DeMar DeRozan has been everything and more for Chicago this season, rewarding the faith of the Bulls front office when he was signed. Again, he likely won’t be MVP, but don’t rule out a late-season push. If DeRozan goes on a tear, it could make a crowded field at the top even more crowded.
Until then though, we wait and appreciate one of the NBA’s premier talents.
Embed from Getty Images