Veteran DeMar DeRozan brings an old-school mentality to Bulls
According to DeRozan, figuring out how to get all the players involved and engaged in what takes place on the court isn’t ‘‘rocket science.”
There’s definitely something old-school about Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan.
He spent the last 12 seasons putting together a solid All-Star résumé and was brought to Chicago not only to help the Bulls end their four-year playoff drought but also to mentor their younger players along the way.
So when he was asked this week about trying to get a bunch of score-first type of players to sacrifice a bit of their games to make this work, DeRozan took a straightforward, honest approach in his reply.
‘‘It’s basketball, at the end of the day,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘You put me out there, I’m going to figure out whatever needs to be figured out for us to be successful. I don’t overthink it. I think that’s when a lot of people get in trouble, when you try to overthink this game.
‘‘It’s a simple game. You understand what it takes, what needs to be done, and you go out there and execute it and do it to the best of your abilities. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t get caught up in, ‘I’ve got to do this, do this.’ Whatever it takes to win, that’s all I care about.’’
That type of attitude just might be perfect for the Bulls.
When executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas acquired All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline last season, all the talk between him and guard Zach LaVine was about how they could mesh their games to make it work.
It was an example of what DeRozan meant by ‘‘overthinking.’’
That’s why the Bulls’ addition of DeRozan might have been the right move at the right time, given what he has been through in recent years: leaving a Raptors organization for which he had played his entire career, spending the last three seasons with the Spurs and learning the true meaning of ‘‘whatever it takes to win.’’
That’s why the idea of having three 20-point-plus scorers a night on the same roster doesn’t have DeRozan overly concerned about figuring out how to make things work, especially with LaVine.
Both can score, both can set up others and both trust in their ability to make final shots that matter. But DeRozan doesn’t think it’s that hard to figure out.
‘‘It’s not rocket science,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘[LaVine] has a passion for the game and a love and appreciation to want to win. The knowledge and everything I’ve gained over my years being in the league and being in different situations and seeing success and playing with all type of players, I understand what it takes. So, for me, it’s just about us putting in the hard work and understanding each other. And not just me and him, [but] as a team, as a collective together. And once we figure that part out, with hard work and just being consistent, it’s going to go a long way.’’
LaVine sounds as though he’s buying into that theory, too. He made sure to spend some time working out with DeRozan during the summer, and both arrived in Chicago a few weeks before the start of camp in an effort to smooth over any growing pains.
‘‘We’re not going to try and change our games and not step on each other’s feet because if we’re not playing our games, we’re not ourselves,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘They brought us here to be ourselves, so we’re going to go in there with that mindset and figure it out. But with great players going in with one goal, it will figure itself out.’’
LaVine sounds like a fast learner.