Chicago Bulls

Bell Game of the Week: DeMar DeRozan has hit the ground running with the Bulls

Bell-Game-of-the-Week-Nets-Bulls-Nov-8-2021
Tune in to the Bulls and Nets on Nov. 8! (NBA.com Illustration)

DeMar DeRozan is making himself right at home in Chicago.

Just nine games into his first season as a member of the Bulls, DeRozan has hit the ground running. The 13-year veteran has been nothing short of impressive to start the season, posting an average of 26.8 points to go along with 5.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

He'll look to continue to build upon that start when Chicago hosts the Brooklyn Nets in the Bell Game of the Week on Monday, Nov. 8 (8:00 p.m. ET, TSN 2).

The numbers are one thing, but the efficiency with which DeRozan is reaching them is another, as he's shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 42.1 percent from 3 (albeit at a low volume) and 87.1 percent on nearly eight attempts per night from the line.

While we're at the early juncture of the season in which small sample sizes reign supreme, it's still worth noting that DeRozan's scoring average is the second-highest of his career. The first? Derozan's All-NBA Third Team campaign of 2016-17 in which he averaged 27.3 points per contest for the 51-win Toronto Raptors.

MORE: DeRozan's history of performances against Toronto

With his play, DeRozan is doing away with any preconceived notions that he would 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 53.2 points per game through three 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 nine 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

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 3.7 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.

DeMar DeRozan: 2016-17 vs. 2021-22
Season Team PTS FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% REB AST
2016-17 Raptors 27.3 9.7 20.9 46.7 0.4 1.7 26.6 5.2 3.9
2021-22 Bulls 26.8 9.6 19.0 50.3 0.9 2.1 50.3 5.9 3.7

Again, it's early! But despite being five years older, 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 if things continue to trend this way.

This season, 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 a solid nine-game start in mind, but rather a long-term approach of building a perennial playoff contender capable of earning 16 wins between April and June.

Chicago might still be a few steps away from its ultimate goal, but it's heading in the right direction and DeRozan playing at an All-Star level is a major part of it.

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