How DeRozan’s Balance Production Has an Instant Impact Originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
PHILADELPHIA – It’s hard to know where to start to fully quantify the impact DeMar DeRozan had early in his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.
You can start on the pitch, where the four-time All-Star is averaging 25.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4 assists over 49.3 / 41.2 / 87 percent shooting divisions for the Bulls. 6-1.
You could focus on the fourth quarter, where DeRozan leads the NBA with 50 points and knocked down 18 of 32 field goals and 12 of 13 free throws.
You might even zoom in on two huge issues for the Bulls last season – too many turnovers, too few free throws – and recognize DeRozan’s impact there. He ranks sixth in the NBA with 6.6 free throw attempts per game as the Bulls moved from 30th to tied for eighth in that category. And his 29.1 use rate paired with just 1.6 turnovers per game has helped the Bulls go from 27th in 2020-21 to third so far this season with just 13 giveaways per contest.
“DeMar is more than just a veteran leader,” Zach LaVine said on Bulls media day. “DeMar is still in the prime of his life. Let’s not be twisted.
That’s right. But DeRozan’s influence as a stable, calming presence cannot be overlooked either. In fact, this is perhaps where it has offered the most value.
Think back to August. During his introductory press conference via Zoom, DeRozan addressed an emphatic rebuke to those who questioned his fit on the new-look Bulls.
“I mean, it’s basketball,” DeRozan said at the time. “A lot of people I see criticizing, talking about ‘fit this, fit that’ have probably never even played basketball. For me, if everyone is on the same mindset and wants to win, it doesn’t have to be. ‘importance for an “adjustment” because everything is going to come together as it should for it to work. “
No matter if people viewed this response as defensive or dripping with confidence, DeRozan’s words set the tone. He also gave the floor for the first time to a theme he returned to repeatedly – and with precision. That the Bulls are full of players with chips on their shoulders.
Don’t look now, but the Bulls are 4-1 in “clutch” games this season – competitions defined by NBA.com as falling within a five-point margin in five minutes to play – after posting a mark of 14-21 in such a game last season.
“He’s incredibly poised. It doesn’t go haywire at all. And I think he’s great for our team, ”said Billy Donovan. “I think he’s great for Zach. Having a guy like DeMar there, playing with rhythm and tempo and balance, you never take him away from what he does.
Indeed, DeRozan’s presence as an alternate ball handler and stroke maker eased the burden on LaVine, who is playing through a small tear in his left thumb. Freed from consistent doubles teams, LaVine’s turnovers have dropped from 3.5 to 2.3 per game – and he’s still averaging 25.6 points on his own.
Watching DeRozan work the matches and constantly go to his spots to unleash his midrange mojo has been a revelation. By his standards, he starts off slow at this distance, connecting at just 42.9% on eight midrange attempts per game.
But according to the NBA.com stats page, DeRozan is shooting 54.8 percent on 10.4 attempts per game with a defenseman rated as “tight” (meaning within two to four feet). It’s a testament to the fact that DeRozan worked the game and knows when to shoot a jumper that most defenses know how to arrive. It is a masterclass in balance.
“For me, to keep this calm, not to let myself be shaken and to share all the experience possible to keep us together,” he said.
Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams both spoke about learning from the 13-year veteran. LaVine has constantly sprung from playing alongside another dynamic goalscorer. Donovan might ask if DeRozan can get a raise.
That last line is sarcasm. But DeRozan’s impact on this young season is very serious.
Just as he is when asked about the fighting and determination the Bulls are showing at this point.
“This is the reason why I came,” he said. “The conversation I had with the front office, I felt it, felt it, understood it. As a competitor, this is something I wanted to be a part of. Being around guys, they had the same type of mindset.
“To me, it didn’t seem like words. Everyone is ready to get involved, knowing that nothing will be perfect. But everyone is ready and wants to win. We see it in the behind-the-scenes preparation which is very intense. The time we spend on it, how much attention we pay to the details. It continues on the ground.
Six wins in seven games suggest DeRozan is on the right track again.
Click here to follow the Bulls Talk podcast.
Download MyTeams today!