Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan as well as the chips on his shoulder
The veteran forward came into the season feeling like he had a lot to prove for some reason, so that’s exactly what he has been trying to do. That’s great news for the Bulls, who are off to an impressive 10-4 start.
PORTLAND, Ore. — It would seem that in Year 13 of an NBA career, wounds would be healed, chips would have fallen cleanly off the shoulder. DeMar DeRozan hasn’t gotten that memo, and if the Bulls forward has, he’s refusing to read it.
“People saying I was washed up the last few years, the narrative of won’t fit [with the Bulls],’’ DeRozan said, when asked about the motivation he’s currently playing with. “I can find all types of chips that I use that are my motivation. The hours I put in during the offseason, I can go down the list. Just being counted out, being looked over, so many chips on my shoulder that I carry.’’
The 32-year-old is also carrying the Bulls these days.
Zach LaVine has been great in leading the team to a 10-4 start. Lonzo Ball has had his moments. The defense, the bench, rookie Ayo Dosunmu; pick a player or a unit on the team, they’ve all done well. Just don’t make the same mistake a lot of the league has done the last few seasons. Don’t forget DeRozan.
“I think a lot of people counted him out, said he was on the back end of his career, but this is probably one of the best years he’s had and we’re just glad to have him be a part of this team,’’ Ball said. “I’ve known of DeMar for a long time, just from being [from Los Angeles]. I’ve always known what type of player he was. I don’t know how he got kind of lost in the shuffle, I guess in San Antonio, but he’s one of the best players in this game, and I think he’s going out there and proving it every night.’’
DeRozan isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Big scoring seasons aren’t new for DeRozan. During the 2016-17 campaign with the Raptors, he averaged 27.3 points for the entire season. Even when he was dealt to the Spurs in the 2018 offseason, he still was averaging 20-plus points. He even averaged 6.9 assists last season just to show his versatility as a playmaker.
Yet when the Bulls acquired him in a sign-and-trade, the critics questioned the move. How could he work with a scoring-dominant player like LaVine? What did he have left?
“I just knew it would be easy translating over to the court because the respect I have for all these guys, not just Zach,’’ DeRozan said. “It just made everything easier. I don’t know where people get these narratives, make up these suggestions that they make, but it’s definitely crazy. If you can’t tell by this [start to the season], you probably need to take some medicine or something.’’
Oh, yes, the start to this season.
Not only is DeRozan averaging 26.9 points with a team-best 26.23 player efficiency rating, but he has scored at least 30 points in five games, with the Bulls going 4-1 during those games.
DeRozan has maintained a strong leadership voice and is well-respected by the team. That’s why there’s no clashing of egos with LaVine and DeRozan. It might be his most impressive feat so far as a Bull.
“It says the only thing that matters is winning,’’ DeRozan said. “We don’t care . . . [LaVine] was trying to force me to get 40 [points Monday against the Lakers], and I told him I was tired. That’s just us. And I’m pretty sure there’s going to be plenty of games where vice versa.
“Nobody has egos, nobody feels entitled. The first day we got together, the only thing I told a couple guys and what guys wanted was to win, and you’ve got to be serious about that. We’re just showing it.’’
One chip on the shoulder at a time.