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Here at CHGO, we’re kicking off the Bulls summer with evaluations of each individual player’s season. There are a ton of different ways to do this, but I’m evaluating each player on two key criteria:
- Performance against expectations based on previous seasons
- Performance against his expected role on the Bulls
Today, it’s time to look at DeMar DeRozan’s 2021-2022 season.
DeMar DeRozan’s Core stats:
Box stats per game:
- 27.9 points (career-high)
- 5.2 rebounds
- 4.9 assists
- 0.9 steals
- 0.3 blocks
- 52.0 percent on 2- point field goals
- 35.2 percent (career-high) on 3-point field goals
- 87.7 percent on free throws
- 59.0 true shooting percentage
These overall advanced stats are another piece of the puzzle to add context when evaluation players. The four in this table are considered to be some of the best. Zero is roughly average. Check out this article to learn more about each metric.
DeRozan had an incredible offensive season and despite some cringeworthy miscues, I’m more than willing to be lenient on the defensive side given his offensive burden and the durability and stability he provided the franchise.
Expectations against previous performance
Remember when DeMar DeRozan was described by some as the worst signing of the offseason? LOL. So do I.
DeRozan’s season was definitively great. No one could have seen this season coming. He became a master of his game, a savant of footwork, and one of the feel-good stories of the entire NBA season.
- Voted Eastern Conference All-Star starter.
- Averaged career-high 27.9 points per game.
- Second best field goal percentage, 2-point percentage and effective field goal percentage of his career.
- Broke Wilt Chamberlain’s 59-year old record of six-straight games scoring 30 or more points on 50-percent shooting or better. DeRozan did it eight-straight times.
- During his record streak he averaged: 38.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists while shooting 62 percent from the field, 46 percent on threes and 85 percent on free throws.
- Scored 35 or more in every game and shot better than 59 percent in all but one of those games.
- His eight-straight games of 35 or more points is the Bulls second-longest streak after Michael Jordan (10 straight games)..
- Named player of the month in February averaging 34.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists on 55.3 percent shooting, 40 percent on threes and 87.7 percent from the line.
- Became the first player in NBA history to make game-winning buzzer-beaters on consecutive days.
DeRozan clearly had the best season of his own career, but etched his name into the NBA history books with some of his heroics. This was truly one of the best non-Michael Jordan seasons of any Bulls player ever.
We’ll always have DeRozan’s Game 2.
DeRozan will likely get a bad rap for his two 11-point stinkers against the Bucks in Games 3 and 5 of their first-round series. Clearly, this assumption completely lacks context. DeRozan was double and tripled-teamed every time down the court.
The Bucks wisely decided to remove him from the game and let the rest of the Bulls try to beat them with the three-ball. Their bet paid off, but this should not be an indictment of DeRozan’s performance.
If anything, his playoff performance should be remembered for his 41-point outburst in the Bulls’ Game 2 win. DeRozan relentlessly attacked Giannis Antetokounmpo and carried the Bulls, like he did 46 other times this season, to a win.
In 2021-2022, the Bulls went as DeRozan went. He was Superman, elevating an otherwise mediocre group to great heights. His February accomplishments were unsustainable, but should be looked at as a microcosm of the Bulls season, and why they were able to take one from a much better Bucks team.
Did the Bulls get what they needed?
Yes. And then some.
On the court, DeRozan overachieved. His on/off differential, according to Cleaning the Glass, was worth 13 wins for the Bulls this season. That number is by far a career-high for him, and 25 added wins over his -12 from last year. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the Bulls won 15 more games than they did in 2020-2021.
That impact completely reshaped the outside perspective of the Bulls as an organization. You have to take an organization seriously if they bring in a player like DeRozan, who overperformed expectations the way he did, single-handedly winning them games and taking them to the playoffs.
The fact that he is excited to mentor Patrick Williams this summer cannot be overstated. Having a star player take that kind of active role in developing a young player can completely change their trajectory. For reference, see Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala’s impact on Jordan Poole.
There aren’t words to express what DeRozan did for this franchise. Even aside from his on-court brilliance, he revamped the culture, narrative and perspective of the Chicago Bulls organization.
He was well worth every penny of his $81.9 million contract.
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