It hasn’t taken long for DeMar DeRozan to make his presence felt with the Bulls.
DeRozan, who joined the storied franchise via sign-and-trade in the offseason, is playing at an All-Star level early on in the 2021-22 season. His play is a major reason that the team finds itself atop the Eastern Conference standings at this early juncture of the year.
Through his first 11 games with the Bulls, the 13-year veteran has been spectacular, posting averages of 26.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from 3-point range (albeit at a low volume).
The averages are great but the efficiency with which DeRozan is reaching them is what truly stands out, as it has allowed him to seamlessly fit in.
It’s still early and small sample sizes should almost always be taken with a grain of salt, but DeRozan’s scoring average is the second-highest of his career. DeRozan’s career-best season came in 2016-17 when he averaged 27.3 points per game to lead the Raptors to a 51-31 record and earn All-NBA Third Team honors in the process.
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With his play, DeRozan is doing away with any preconceived notions that he’d have a hard time sharing the spotlight with Zach LaVine, who is also enjoying a spectacular start to the season. Again, small sample size alert, but DeRozan and LaVine are the league’s top-scoring duo at a combined 51.9 points per game through nearly four weeks of action.
It’s hard not to attribute LaVine’s prolific start to the ways in which DeRozan is making life easier for him with his role as an offensive threat.
In just 11 games, DeRozan has already put forth these impressive showings:
- 32 points (on 13-for-22 shooting) in a win over the Utah Jazz
- 37 points (on 15-for-20 shooting) in a comeback win over the Boston Celtics
- 37 points (on 13-for-22 shooting) in a tight road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers
- 28 points (on 10-for-20 shooting) in a runaway victory over the Brooklyn Nets
After emerging as a playmaker during his three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs (6.2 assists over 206 games), DeRozan has been afforded the opportunity to again be a scorer first, while LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Nikola Vucevic each do their fair share of distributing.
DeRozan’s 3.8 assists per game are nothing to gloss over, but his scoring is reminiscent of his All-Star days in Toronto.
The parallels are hard to ignore.
This is the part where I reiterate that it’s extremely early but it’s impossible to ignore that at 32, DeRozan is arguably better than he was during one of his best statistical seasons in Toronto, suggesting that he could be in line for the fifth All-Star selection of his career.
The 2021-22 season has already seen the Bulls got out to their best start to a season since the 1996-97 campaign. The franchise is now seeing results after going all-in at the trade deadline by motioning to acquire Vucevic and building upon that approach in acquiring both Ball and DeRozan via sign-and-trade this past offseason.
Of course, these moves weren’t made with the ultimate goal of a strong start to the season, but rather a long-term approach of building a perennial playoff contender capable of earning 16 wins between April and June.
With DeRozan playing at an All-Star level, the ultimate goal might not be as far off as it initially seemed.