One of the biggest names the Bulls picked up during the offseason was DeMar DeRozan. Acquiring the four-time all-star in a sign and trade with San Antonio on a three-year, $85 million deal was a major pickup for a fan base that has been starving for star power for half a decade now. At 32 years old, the notable wing still has a few years left in his prime as he looks to help bring the Bulls back to the playoffs and perhaps go even further. With two other former all-stars on the roster in Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic, what exactly will his stats and role look like this season?
Looking Into Past Seasons
In 12 seasons, DeRozan has career averages of 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game while shooting right at 46% from the field. His most notable seasons were in 2016-17 and 2017-18 when he was able to gain himself All-NBA honors.
Although he’s been unsuccessful in being voted into an all-star game since the infamous Kawhi Leonard trade which saw Toronto send DeRozan and a few other pieces to San Antonio before the 2018-19 season. The Raptors would go on to finally win a title in Leonard’s one season there and while DeRozan’s production didn’t drop drastically, he has been a name that people forgot about in a small market with a sort of middle-of-the-road team that’s become a shell of the dynasty it once was.
DeRozan looks to change the narrative though and put the league on notice again in a bigger market with Chicago in the eastern conference which he’s had most of his success in.
DeRozan’s most known strength around the league has always been his ability to score at the rim or in the mid-range, which is something that is becoming more and more uncommon in the game today. He gained a reputation in a breakout 2013-14 season for taking people one on one at will and scoring inside on smaller guards due to his 6’6″ frame and 6’9″ wingspan.
Although he’s transitioned to more of a small forward than a shooting guard in recent seasons he will likely play both positions this year and maybe even power forward at times being a swiss army knife and wreaking havoc on opposing defenses.
He can out quick forwards with his speed and athleticism and is just simply bigger than most guards in today’s game. With a point guard that has the playmaking ability that Lonzo Ball has, he should be in plenty of situations to showcase these talents in 2021-22.
Another underrated strength of DeRozan’s is his playmaking. His assist numbers improved significantly while in San Antonio averaging a career-high 6.9 assists per game last season. Playing alongside one of the best scorers in today’s game in Zach Lavine as well as other great scorers in Nikola Vucevic and maybe even Coby White at certain times, this ability will come in handy and do nothing but help the Bulls on the offensive end.
One of the most glaring weaknesses in DeRozan’s game has always been his defense. Many critics have always seemed to think of his defense as serviceable at best. His defensive rating of 115.1 was still nearly three points above the league average of 112.3 from last season though. While he won’t be a world-beater, His defense did improve under San Antonio’s system and I think he can carry that over to a team like the Bulls who will be offensive-minded anyway. With the help of guys’ perimeter defense like Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams, and others coming off the bench this shouldn’t be too much of a worry.
Another weakness has always been his ability to shoot the long ball. He shoots a career average of just over 28% from the arc which is well below average in the modern game where the three-ball has become the most important shot.
To compound this his 3-point average dropped significantly during his stint in San Antonio. Bulls fans need to hope he improves upon this a little bit this season for this team to make a drastic jump with him playing significant minutes. With the firepower this team has on the offensive end though, I see him being able to get more open looks from the arc and he’ll gain some confidence back from his days in Toronto where he was more than serviceable.
Predictions for 2021-22
My prediction is that we will see improvements across the board for DeRozan besides scoring. That may come to surprise some but I think most people agree that despite his success being the guy in the past this is still Lavine’s team. I think DeRozan is the perfect fit for a number two option guy on this roster though and we could likely see a career-high in assists and rebounds for the veteran, and he will still take over at certain times when needed.
An all-star appearance for the first time in a few seasons isn’t out of the question either. This is a guy who’s been in the big games and knows how to win which is a big question about the Bulls right now. I see him being that guy who can provide that bump and bring the youngsters under his shoulder. He should be one of the many bright spots in what looks to be a high-scoring, exciting team.
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