NBA

DeMar DeRozan on his fit with Zach Lavine and the Bulls: “I haven’t played with a talent at that wing position like Zach.”

Sep 27, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (2) center Nikola Vucevic (9) guard Zach LaVine (8) and forward DeMar DeRozan (11) pose for photos during Chicago Bulls Media Day at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The new-look Chicago Bulls showcased their exciting potential in Tuesday’s 36 point routing of the Cleveland Cavaliers. With two high flyers in Zach Lavine and Demar DeRozan, the Bulls boast a dunking repertoire reminiscent of Lob City. While we would never draw conclusions from a single game, the Bulls gave us a taste of why they’re on everyone’s must-watch list for the upcoming season. In an interview with Shams Charnia, DeRozan discussed his fit with Zach Lavine and the Bulls.

“We’ve all been through so many situations. Being the number one option. Now it’s just the time to understand how we can make this thing work for the whole group. Everybody came in with that mindset. It really didn’t have to be another conversation after that. Let’s figure out how to make this thing work, make it fun.”

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan certainly makes a good point. The Bulls have three players who have all been successful number one options throughout their careers. Alongside Kyle Lowry, DeRozan led the Toronto Raptors to five straight playoff appearances from 2014 to 2016. This duo reached its peak in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. In contrast, Nikola Vuceveic couldn’t garner much team success with the Orlando Magic.

He qualified for the postseason just twice in his time there. Still, the Magic never gave him much to work with. He was a very effective individual player, averaging north of 20 points per game in three separate seasons. Lavine was in the same boat, averaging over 27 points per game last season and still missing the playoffs through no fault of his own. In DeRozan, he has back up at the wing position that neither has had in the past.

Spreading their wings

“The talent that Zach has in the league is incredible. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been able to be on the main stage and show that. You play in the NBA to want to see what it’s like in the postseason. Just having a dynamic guy like that. In my career, I haven’t played with a talent at that wing position like Zach before. He’s incredible, how he can score the ball, his athleticism. He’s one of a kind. That was one of the big reasons I even decided to come to Chicago, to play with a guy like Zach.”

DeMar DeRozan
Sep 27, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) and forward DeMar DeRozan (11) pose for photos during Chicago Bulls Media Day at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

He’s not entirely wrong. DeMarre Carroll and Patrick Patterson were productive roleplayers and competent defenders. But they don’t hold a candle to Lavine production-wise. While fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry was an effective scorer, he’s more a floor general than a shot creator like Lavine.

He’s morphed his game into a point-forward role, putting up a career-high seven assists per game last season. Not only that, he’s gotten more efficient at putting the ball in the basket. DeRozan has posted a true shooting percentage above 59% for two seasons in a row.

This improvement comes after capping out at 55% the ten seasons prior. Despite the lack of All-Star hardware, DeRozan has elevated his game and is a better player than he’s ever been. This season, the Bulls will often rely on their star duo as they look to compete for an NBA title.

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