DeMar DeRozan's Resurgence Back to Relevance
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
DeMar DeRozan is playing at an all-time level at the moment. His addition to the Chicago Bulls roster has elevated the team to heights they have not seen since Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler wore the jersey. A season removed from being the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls are starting to be considered as contenders for an NBA championship and DeRozan has played a major role in that.
Before DeRozan put on the red, white, and black Chicago Bulls jerseys he began his career wearing the red, white, and black of the Toronto Raptors. It was with the Raptors DeRozan entered the upper echelon of NBA talent. It was there he was a four-time all-star, and a two-time All-NBA team member (second and third team). After nine seasons with the Raptors, DeRozan was shipped off to San Antonio in the infamous trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and brought the franchise's only championship.
After nine years of helping bring the Raptors to relevance, DeRozan got introduced to the business side of the NBA. He made Toronto home and was in the process of creating a legacy that was surpassing what Vince Carter had cultivated while wearing the Raptors' jersey (he is currently the all-time scoring leader in Raptors franchise history). All those years seemed to vanish into thin air after he was traded. The multiple trips to the Eastern Conference Finals became irrelevant. The multiple 50 plus win seasons held no more weight. DeRozan ultimately became the sacrifice for the elusive title the Raptors were chasing.
As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. DeRozan missed out on a championship and was discarded by the franchise he gave nine years of his life. Despite all this, it was on the Spurs and under the tutelage of legendary coach, Greg Popovich that DeRozan's game began to grow. Popovich challenged him and brought his versatility to the eyes of NBA fans. As a Raptor DeRozan was relied on as a scorer, never a facilitator. He stuck to the same position of shooting guard within those nine years.
Upon his arrival at the Spurs, DeRozan's game steadily changed. During his three seasons playing under Popovich, he became one of the more versatile players in the league. His position change from shooting guard to power forward happened during these years. His ability of shot-making and scoring was now accompanied by a newfound role as a facilitator in the much-lauded Spurs offense. Without a single all-star nod in those three years, DeRozan's game was blossoming away from the gaze of many NBA fans. After averaging just 3.1 assists in nine years as a Raptor, his assist numbers doubled to 6.2 assists during his three-year stint with the Spurs.
Fast forward to the present day; DeRozan isn't the same player he was years ago. His grasp of the game is much more nuanced. At the age of 32, he is experiencing his best season in his 13th year. So far this season DeRozan averages 25.6 points, 4.8 assists, and 5 rebounds on 49-35-86 (field goal, three-point, and free throw) shooting splits. With his input, the Chicago Bulls currently sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. In this same season, he has claimed the record of being the only player to hit a game-winning buzzer-beaters in back-to-back games. He has thrown himself into the MVP race with the league's brightest stars. Most importantly, he finds himself and his team in a state of relevance and contention, similar to his days as a Raptor.
Surrounded by talents such as Zach Lavine, Lonzo Ball, and Nikola Vucevic; DeRozan has taken a prominent leadership role on the Bulls. His experiences as a Raptor and Spur have brought him back to this point. This Bulls squad is probably the most talented team he has ever been a part of, and with his improved game and versatility, there is no telling what they can accomplish this season and the seasons to follow.